What the Appeal was about
The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co ("Lilly") has developed a drug called pemetrexed which it markets under the brand name Alimta for the treatment of various types of cancer. Used on its own, pemetrexed has unpleasant side effects that can sometimes be fatal but these can be avoided when it is administered as a compound called pemetrexed disodium in combination with vitamin B12.
The use of pemetrexed disodium in the manufacture of a medicament for use in combination with vitamin B12 (and, optionally, folic acid) for the treatment of cancer is monopolized in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and a number of other European countries by European patent number No 1 313 508. There are also corresponding patents for the same invention in many other countries around the world.
An exception to the rule that a trade mark registration cannot be challenged for non-use in the first 5 years after registration is where the application to register the trade mark was made in "bad faith". The legislative mechanism is provided by s.47 (1) of the Trade Marks Act 1994:
"The registration of a trade mark may be declared invalid on the ground that the trade mark was registered in breach of section 3 or any of the provisions referred to in that section (absolute grounds for refusal of registration)."
Subsection (6) of s.3 provides:
"A trade mark shall not be registered if or to the extent that the application is made in bad faith."
On Wednesday I stressed the importance of pre-action correspondence and how the drafting of a letter before claim can make all the difference between getting what you want quickly and cheaply through focused negotiation and precipitating an expensive and possibly protracted law suit in Pre-Action Correspondence - Not Just a Box to be ticked or a Hoop to be jumped through2 Aug 2017. Today, I shall tell you what to do if you receive a letter accusing you of infringing a patent or some other intellectual property right.
If you have carried out an IP audit you should have a strategy in place for just such a contingency and you will have an insurance funded legal team ready to advise and represent you. If you have a case they should be able to see off the challenge with a well-reasoned and documented response. If, however, you are in the wrong they will advise you of that reality and suggest ways of extricating yourself from the dispute as quickly and cost-effectively as poss…