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Tax Court Allows Partial Deduction, Requires Partial Capitalization of Generic Drug Approval Legal Expenses

The US Tax Court determined that a pharmaceutical manufacturer’s legal expenses incurred to defend against a patent infringement suit were eligible for an immediate deduction as ordinary and necessary business expenses, while legal expenses incurred as part of an abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) were not eligible for an immediate deduction and thus had to be capitalized and then amortized over 15 years. Mylan, Inc. & Subsidiaries v. Commissioner, 156 T.C. No. 10 (Apr. 27, 2021) (Urda, J.)

The ANDA process allows for faster approval of a generic drug if the manufacturer can show that the generic drug is sufficiently similar to an approved brand name drug. As part of the ANDA process, the generic manufacturer must file statements certifying that the generic drug does not infringe any brand drug patents, or that such patents are invalid. The generic manufacturer also must send a notification to the holder of any patents covered by the certification statements.

Mylan filed several ANDAs for generic versions of brand name drugs, including Celebrex, Lunesta and Nexium, during the tax years at issue in the case. Considerable legal expenses were incurred as part of filing the ANDAs and making the required certifications and notifications. As a result of those certifications and notifications, patent holders brought approximately 120 patent infringement suits against Mylan. Mylan defended itself against the infringement suits, incurring litigation expenses.

In general, taxpayers may take an immediate deduction for ordinary and necessary business expenses. However, taxpayers must capitalize expenditures that create or enhance a distinct asset or otherwise generate benefits for taxpayers beyond a single tax year. Special rules apply to determine whether expenses related to an intangible asset should be capitalized. The income tax regulations provide that a “taxpayer must capitalize amounts paid to a governmental agency to obtain, renew, renegotiate, or upgrade its rights under a trademark, trade name, copyright, license, permit, franchise, or other similar right granted by that governmental agency.” Taxpayers must also capitalize an amount paid to facilitate an acquisition or creation of an intangible.

Litigation expenses for patent suits may be deducted or must be capitalized depending on the nature of the litigation. Defense of title claims are treated as the acquisition or disposition of a capital asset and must be capitalized. In contrast, patent infringement claims arise in tort and can be deducted in the year the expense is incurred.

Applying these rules to Mylan’s legal expenses, the Tax Court held that expenses related to the preparation of the ANDA, including the certifications and notices, were capital expenses to acquire or create an intangible asset and had to be recovered incrementally over 15 years. However, the Tax Court held that the costs of defending against patent infringement suits is an ordinary and necessary business expense for a generic drug manufacturer and permitted Mylan to deduct its litigation expenses in the year the expense was incurred.




The Future of Skinny Labeling in Patent Litigation Will be Reconsidered

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has now vacated its prior ruling finding induced infringement based on so-called skinny labeling on a pharmaceutical product. GlaxoSmithKline LLC v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Case no.18-1876 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 9, 2021) PER CURIAM. The case concerns communications regarding generic approvals and “skinny labels,” which permit companies to sell pharmaceutical products that omit certain patented uses.

On Oct. 2, 2020, a panel of the Federal Circuit (PROST, C.J ., NEWMAN and MOORE, JJ.) issued an opinion finding that Teva induced infringement of a patent covering GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK’s) drug Coreg® (carvedilol). In a per curiam Order, the Court has now vacated that opinion and set a new round of oral arguments that was held on February 23.

Teva had requested an en banc rehearing the case, which was denied in the Order vacating the Oct. 2, 2020 opinion while ordering panel rehearing limited to the following issue:

Whether there is substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict of induced infringement during the time period from January 8, 2008 through April 30, 2011.

Background

GSK’s patent covers a method of using carvedilol, the active ingredient in Coreg®, for the treatment of congestive heart failure. In 2007, the FDA approved Teva’s application to market generic carvedilol tablets. To obtain that approval prior to the expiration of the patent (or prevailing on noninfringement, invalidity, or unenforceability of the patent in litigation), Teva had “carved out” certain patent-protected left ventricular dysfunction uses and only included claims to treat hypertension, i.e., claims not covered by the GSK patent. That original patent expired in 2007, but it was reissued in 2008.

Teva had deliberately omitted congestive heart failure in its label until the FDA made it add that indication in 2011. In accordance with the Order, the February 23 oral argument focued on alleged infringement in the period before the label change, i.e., the period 2008 and 2011. The outcome is expected to turn on associated activities and statements made by Teva that went beyond the approval of the generic drug with skinny labeling, where Teva did not explicitly claim that their product was for the patent-protected uses.




Antitrust Liability Risk When Listing Patents in Orange Book

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that pharmaceutical companies that wrongly list patents in FDA’s Orange Book must prove they acted in good faith to avoid antitrust liability. In re Lantus Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 18-2086 (1st Cir. Feb. 13, 2020) (Kayatta, J).

In applying for FDA approval to market new drugs, drug manufacturers must list all patents that “claim” the drug or the method of using the drug in FDA’s “Orange Book.” Listing a patent in the “Orange Book” allows the drug manufacture to trigger an automatic 30-month stay of FDA approval of any application for a competing drug product.

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Inherent Claim Limitation Necessarily Present in the Prior Art Invalidates Patent

Addressing the issue of obviousness, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that a patent was invalid based on inherency because the claim limitation was necessarily present in the prior art. Hospira, Inc. v. Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC, Case Nos. 19-1329, -1367 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 9, 2020) (Lourie, J).

The patent at-issue is directed to premixed pharmaceutical compositions of dexmedetomidine that do not require reconstitution or dilution prior to administration and remains stable and active after prolonged storage. Hospira makes and sells dexmedetomidine products, including a ready-to-use product called Precedex Premix covered by the patent at-issue. Fresenius filed an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) seeking approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market a generic ready-to-use dexmedetomidine product. Hospira brought suit alleging infringement under the Hatch-Waxman Act.

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Only One More Ratification Needed: European UPC Might Be Ready to Launch

The German parliament recently passed the Approval Act (the Act) regarding the planned European Unified Patent Court (UPC) and the protocol on a UPC on provisional application (PPA). The Act was passed after Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court rejected applications for a preliminary injunction directed against the Act. The instrument of Germany’s ratification of the PPA (not of the UPC Agreement (UPCA)) has been deposited with the European Council. The UPC Preparatory Committee published a report calling Germany’s ratification “a decisive step on the establishment of the Unified Patent Court after the work has been on hold for several years during the examination of the Agreement by the German Federal Constitutional Court.”

The PPA will only come into effect after at least 13 EU Member States (which must include Germany, Italy and France, i.e., the three Member States in which the most European Patents were in effect in 2012) ratify the PPA and deposit their respective instrument with the European Council. The PPA must also ratify the UPCA (or at least have parliament’s approval to do so) and deposit this second instrument with the European Council. In this complex scheme, the German ratification was previously the main legal hurdle.

Now, after publication of Slovenia’s Approval Act in its National Law Gazette and the expected deposit of its PPA and UPCA instruments, only one more national ratification and instrument deposit is needed to reach the required 13 ratifications. According to a note published by the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on September 24, 2021, Austria is likely to move next, whereupon the project will reach the minimum number of ratifying Member States. The Austrian Government submitted a draft for an approval act to its parliament in July 2021 and expects approval.

Upon the complete ratification of the UPCA and PPA, the UPC will form on a provisional basis and commence its existence as a legal entity. The UPC Preparatory Committee (Committee) can then formally start its work. Although there is no timeline set for the initial provisional application stage, the Committee expects that stage to continue for approximately six to 10 months following ratification. As stated in the note by the Presidency of the Council, this stage includes the adoption of the secondary legislation of the UPC, including procedures, establishment of a budget, recruitment of judges and administrative stuff, election of a president, the final configuration and testing of the file management system and ensuring that all IT infrastructure is properly set up and secured. In addition, a working agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO) on patent application and patent validation remains to be completed. Many observers regard the timeline to complete preparations as challenging, noting that several of the above points will likely require significant discussion. With these issues in mind, the Competitive Council (Council) met on September 29, 2021, to discuss further actions regarding the preparations and to invite ministers to inform the Council of recent or upcoming developments in [...]

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Material Information Submitted to FDA but Withheld from PTO Gives Rise to Inequitable Conduct

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found prior art submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), yet withheld from the US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) during prosecution of an asserted patent, sufficient evidence for a finding of inequitable conduct. Belcher Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. Hospira, Inc., Case No. 20-1799 (Fed. Cir. Sept. 1, 2021) (Reyna, J.)

The patent in issue relates to injectable formulations of l-epinephrine. Epinephrine is a hormone that has been on the market since approximately 1938 and is used for a variety of medical purposes. It is also known that l-epinephrine degrades into a more potent isomer known as d-epinephrine. L-epinephrine also degrades into an impurity known as adrenalone through a process called oxidation.

In 2012, Belcher first submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) for a 1 mg/mL injectable l-epinephrine formulation. The NDA was literature-based, meaning that Belcher did not perform any clinical or non-clinical studies on its epinephrine formulation to support its application. Among the materials submitted to the FDA was an article by Stepensky et al to support its statement that “racemization of the enantiomerically pure L-Epinephrine isomer in injectable formulations of epinephrine is a well-known process.” It also submitted data from Swiss pharmaceutical company Sintetica SA’s formulation that had a pH range of 3.1 – 3.3 and undetectable levels of adrenalone. Ultimately, Belcher pursued a formulation with a similar pH range of 2.8 – 3.3.

In 2014, Belcher filed a patent application that was ultimately issued as the asserted patent. The patent taught that increasing the in-process pH to 2.8 – 3.3 unexpectedly reduced the racemization of l-epinephrine to d-epinephrine at release by approximately two thirds. The asserted claims covered pharmaceutical epinephrine formulations having a pH between 2.8 – 3.3 and certain concentrations of l-epinephrine, d-epinephrine and adrenalone at the time of release and 12 months later.

The prosecution of the application involved a single office action in which the pending claims were rejected in view of Helenek. The examiner explained that Helenek taught 1 mg/ml of epinephrine injection that, among other things, had a pH range of 2.2 – 5.0. Belcher overcame this rejection by arguing that Helenek did not render obvious the claimed range of 2.8 – 3.3 because the claimed range was unexpectedly found to be critical to reduce racemization of l-epinephrine.

Hospiria also submitted an NDA seeking approval of an injectable l-epinephrine formulation, which included a certification under 21 U.S.C. § 355(b)(2)(A)(iv)(Paragraph IV) that the asserted patent’s claims were invalid, unenforceable and/or not infringed by Hospira’s NDA product. Belcher subsequently sued Hospira for patent infringement.

During trial, Darren Rubin, Belcher’s Chief Science Officer, testified that in his role at Belcher, he was involved in the drafting and development of the NDA and in the prosecution of the asserted patent—including drafting the claims and specification and responding to the examiner’s office action. Darren admitted he knew of Stepensky before the application was filed and that he possessed a label for a 1 mg/mL epinephrine product marked [...]

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The Skinny Label That Wasn’t—Federal Circuit Reinstates Induced Infringement Verdict

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the district court’s grant of judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) of non-infringement where substantial evidence supported the jury’s verdict of induced infringement by an attempted “skinny label” that nonetheless encouraged doctors to engage in a patented use. GlaxoSmithKline LLC v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Case Nos. 18-1876, -2023 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 5, 2021) (Moore, C.J.) (Prost, J., dissenting).

GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) sells a drug called carvedilol (brand name Coreg®), which is approved for three indications: Hypertension, congestive heart failure (CHF) and left ventricular dysfunction following a myocardial infarction (post-MI LVD). In 2002, Teva filed an abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) for US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of its generic carvedilol for all three indications. At that time, GSK’s patent on the carvedilol compound was still in force; Teva certified that it would not launch its product until the patent expired in 2007. GSK also had a second patent on a method of treating CHF using carvedilol and a second agent. In 2002, Teva sent GSK a Paragraph IV notice contending that the claims of that patent were invalid over prior art. Rather than sue Teva, GSK applied for reissue of the patent. In 2004, Teva received FDA “tentative approval” for its ANDA “for the treatment of heart failure and hypertension,” which was to become effective at the expiry of the compound patent in 2007.

In January 2008, the method-of-use patent reissued with claims directed to a method of decreasing mortality caused by CHF by administering carvedilol with at least one other therapeutic agent. Just before its launch in 2007, Teva certified to the FDA that its label would not include the indication listed in the Orange Book as covered by the original method-of-use patent (i.e., “decreasing mortality caused by congestive heart failure”), and thus included only the hypertension and post-MI LVD indications. Teva’s press releases stated that its generic carvedilol was “indicated for treatment of heart failure and hypertension.” In 2011, the FDA asked Teva to revise its labeling to be identical with GSK’s. Teva obliged (listing again the CHF indication) and took the position that it did not need to provide certification for the reissued patent because it received final approval of its ANDA before the patent reissued. GSK sued.

GSK won a jury verdict that the challenged patents had not been shown to be invalid and that Teva was liable for induced infringement. At trial, GSK contended—and the jury heard evidence—that post-MI LVD is a form (and fell within the Court’s construction) of CHF such that Teva’s attempted skinny label nonetheless encouraged doctors to engage in a patented use. After trial, however, the district court granted JMOL of non-infringement because the CHF and post-MI LVD indications were different. On appeal, the Federal Circuit found that substantial evidence supported the implied jury, finding that post-MI LVD is a form of CHF such that the label with the post-MI LVD indication induced infringement of the reissued [...]

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Unified at Last? Germany’s Constitutional Court Removes UPC Hurdle

On July 9, 2021, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court rejected a pair of applications for a preliminary injunction directed against the German Approval Act on the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC) (decision of June 23, 2021, 2 BvR 2216/20). Thus, German ratification of the Agreement now only requires a presidential signature of the Approval Act and the subsequent deposition of the ratification.

The Constitutional Court’s press release can be found here (in English and German). The text of the decision itself is available here (in German only).

BACKGROUND

So far, 15 EU Member States have ratified the 2013 Agreement on a UPC. In recent years, the ratification process has faced several unexpected hurdles and proved to be cumbersome. Last year, post-Brexit, the United Kingdom formally revoked its ratification (as of July 20, 2020). Since then, of the ratifications required for entry into force, only Germany’s remained pending.

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court annulled a first national ratification Approval Act on February 13, 2020, after a successful constitutional complaint. Now, following an apparently unsuccessful second round of constitutional complaints, nothing remains to prevent the second Approval Act, which was redrafted and approved by the German legislator in fall 2020, from being formally signed by the German president.

GROUNDS FOR THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT’S DECISION

The Constitutional Court stated that the constitutional complaints were inadmissible on the merits because the complainants had not sufficiently substantiated the possibility of a violation of their fundamental rights.

Under German constitutional law, national legal acts may only transfer sovereign rights to the European Union or EU-related institutions under certain conditions. In particular, in order for a national act to be deemed unconstitutional, it must be established that the transfer of rights would undermine the German constitution or, in the words of German constitutional law, would affect the integral core or identity of the German constitution. In its 2020 decision, the Federal Constitutional Court recognized that the first Approval Act lacked the two-thirds majority in parliament required for such a significant transfer of sovereign rights. The first Approval Act was adopted unanimously, but only 35 of the approximately 600 German members of parliament were present for the vote, which was found to be too few for such a far-reaching piece of legislation.

In principle, the hurdles for a successful constitutional complaint are high. The Approval Act represents a democratically legitimized majority decision by a constitutional body. Now 570 members of parliament have voted in favor of the second Approval Act. Therefore, in the present decision, the Federal Constitutional Court (for the first time) considered the merits of the law rather than the formalities of passage.

In the present case, the complainants argued that Articles 6 et seq. of the UPC Agreement violated the independence of judges established in the German constitution and the constitutionally guaranteed principle of the rule of law due to the appointment of the judges of the UPC for six years, their possible reappointment and the [...]

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PTO Rules Not Subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit concluded that certain challenged rules of the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) that relate to the patent application process do not violate the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) because each called for a response to an individualized communication; a category which is expressly exempted from the PRA. Hyatt v. Office of Management and Budget, Case No. 20-15590 (9th Cir. May 20, 2021) (Nguyen, J.).

Inventor Gilbert Hyatt and the American Association for Equitable Treatment (AAET) contended that patent applicants should not have to comply with certain PTO rules, alleging that the rules violated the PRA, which Congress passed to reduce the burden imposed on the public when responding to federal agencies’ requests for information from private individuals. The PRA requires federal agencies engaged in “collections of information” to first submit them to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval and an assignment of a control number. Collections of things other than “information” do not need to receive OMB approval, and the PRA applies only to “collections” seeking information through identical questions or requirements imposed on 10 or more people. Thus, the PRA and its regulations expressly exclude individualized communications from PRA applicability.

Hyatt asked OMB to review PTO rules 111, 115 and 116, arguing that those rules imposed “collections of information” under the PRA. Hyatt suggested that because the rules had not received OMB approval and control numbers, he was not required to maintain, provide or disclose the information these rules referenced. OMB responded that it had already determined that “these collections are not subject to the PRA because what is collected is not considered ‘information,’ pursuant to [three] exemptions in OMB’s PRA implementing regulation”:

  • Exemption 1: “[a]ffidavits, oaths, affirmations, certifications . . . provided that they entail no burden other than that necessary to identify the respondent, the date, the respondent’s address, and the nature of the instrument. . .”
  • Exemption 6: “request[s] for facts or opinions addressed to a single person”
  • Exemption 9: “[f]acts or opinions obtained or solicited through nonstandardized follow-up questions designed to clarify responses to approved collections of information.”

5 C.F.R. §§ 1320.3(h)(1), (6), (9).

AAET made similar arguments in submitting three requests to OMB on PTO rules 105, 130, 131 and 132 and MPEP § 2173.05(n). In its response to AAET, OMB only stated that “the requests under Rule 1.105 are not subject to the PRA because the responses to questions submitted under Rule 1.105 are not ‘information,’ but instead are exempt under” Exemption 9. AAET submitted three more requests to OMB on the same rules with similar arguments. OMB responded that Rules 105, 130, 131 and 132 and MPEP § 2173.05(n) were exempt under Exemptions 6 and 9; and Rules 130, 131 and 132 were additionally exempt under Exemption 1.

Hyatt and AAET sued OMB in district court, alleging that OMB’s denial of their petitions was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law in [...]

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An Early Holiday Present for Generics? Legislation Requiring Greater Disclosure by Brands Passes the Senate

Earlier this month, two bills intended to promote generic competitiveness by presenting a clearer idea of the patent landscape covering reference products passed the full Senate, albeit with amendments. These laws, if enacted, will require brand pharmaceutical companies to submit more information about their innovator products.

Potential Changes to Orange Book Listing Requirements for Non-Biologics Drugs

As part of its current obligations, an innovator product manufacturer must submit to the FDA the patent number and expiration date of any patents that claim the drug or a method of using the drug. The FDA then performs the ministerial function of listing the information in the Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations, known as the Orange Book. The Hatch-Waxman Act permits generic manufacturers to file a counterclaim to delist a patent that they believe is improperly listed. Over the years, FDA has issued technical regulations expanding on the requirements, which under statute, are relatively sparse. However, there has been some uncertainty regarding what patents must be listed—especially in the case of drug products with innovative delivery systems.

The Orange Book Transparency Act of 2020, H.R. 1503, seeks to codify certain existing regulations and bring some certainty to the process. First, the Orange Book Act provides greater clarity on the types of patents a brand company must list. Currently, the relevant statutes require submission of patent information for “any patent which claims the drug for which the applicant submitted the application or which claims a method of using such drug” that could be asserted based on the manufacture, use, or sale of the drug. The Orange Book Act would alter that language to require submission of patent information for patents that claim the drug substance (active ingredient), the drug product (formulation or composition), or a method of use that is included in the application (i.e., a method of use that corresponds with an approved indication/use code). All other patents—e.g., patents that cover off-label use—must not be listed.

Second, the FDA would be responsible for “specify[ing] any exclusivity period that is applicable,” including the 180-day exclusivity period for first-to-file applicants.

Finally, the Orange Book Act codifies certain existing agency requirements. Under current FDA regulations, brand manufacturers are required to promptly request delisting if they determine that a patent no longer qualifies or its relevant claims are invalidated, and within 14 days if court-ordered. The Orange Book Act would codify the duty on brand manufacturers to remove listed patents within 14 days—rather than “promptly”—when any claim of a listed patent “has been cancelled or invalidated pursuant to a final decision” by the Patent Trial & Appeal Board or a court once it is unappealable. This quick turnaround time of communicating to the public which patents have been found invalid will be key to giving generics an advantage in developing generic products and patents covering branded drug products invalid. The Orange Book Act includes a 30-day period for a brand manufacturer to list a patent after issuance; this requirement mirrors already existing FDA regulations.

While [...]

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