11:19, July 07 302 0

2017-07-07 11:19:06
Supreme Court overturns ruling in landmark Actavis Eli Lilly battle

The Supreme Court has overturned a High Court and Court of Appeal decision in a long-running patent case between pharma giants Actavis and Eli Lilly.

The Supreme Court ruled that pharmaceutical company Actavis had infringed the patent of its rival Eli Lilly in the UK, France, Italy and Spain.

In an unusual move, Lords Neuberger, Mance, Clarke Sumption and Hodge of the Supreme Court gave their key decisions ahead of the full judgment, which will be handed down next week.

A source close to the case said the matter had set a precedent for cases heard in the lower courts.

The long-running case began in 2012, when there was a jurisdictional question relating to the fact that UK courts were being asked to consider patent law in the remaining countries, which was resolved by 2014.

Eli Lilly argued that Actavis breached its patent concerning the use a cancer drug pemetrexed in co-therapy with vitamin B12, with its rival’s product differing only in relation to the salt form of pemetrexed.

Actavis sought non-infringement declarations in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, but was later forced to remove its German patent from the UK litigation in 2014 after the Dusseldorf Court found that it infringed Eli Lilly’s patent.

Mr Justice Arnold in the High Court ruled that the remaining patents were not infringed and granted declarations of non-infringement to Actavis, which was later redefined after the Court of Appeal found there to be an indirect infringement of Eli Lilly’s patent.

The Court of Appeal’s decision in 2015 has now been both upheld and overturned by the Supreme Court, which ruled that there was an infringement but that it was direct as opposed to indirect.

Daniel Brook, Stephen Bennett and Emma Fulton at Hogan Lovells acted for Eli Lilly alongside Clifford Chance partner Miguel Montañá, instructing Thomas Mitcheson QC, Andrew Waugh QC and Stuart Baran at Three New Square Chambers.

Actavis was represented by Mark Hilton at Bird & Bird, who instructed Daniel Alexander QC and Isabel Jamal at 8 New Square, along with Thomas Raphael at 20 Essex Street.

Hogan Lovells partner Daniel Brook said: “This conclusion vindicates Lilly’s position after five years of hard-fought litigation and we look forward to receiving  the reasoned judgment next week. We are delighted at the outcome for our client.”