Pfizer Gets Court Fees for Defending Viagra Patent

     (CN) – Teva Pharmaceticals must pay for the cost of bringing a “baseless” patent lawsuit against Pfizer, in a case that ensures there will be no generic Viagra anytime soon, a federal judge ruled.
     Earlier this year, Pfizer sued Teva for infringing on its patent titled “Pyrazolopyrimidinones for the Treatment of Impotence,” which claims the use of certain chemical compounds as a method of treating erectile dysfunction. This patent covers Pfizer’s popular drug called Viagra, which has generated over $10 billion in sales since its introduction in 1998. It is scheduled to expire in 2019.
     Teva countered that the patent was invalid because Pfizer engaged in inequitable conduct during the patent application process. It alleged that “Pfizer actively prosecuted the patent to include claims that the treatment would benefit a ‘male animal’ with erectile dysfunction,” even while it “knew that the animal claims were overbroad and unpatentable,” the court noted.
     On Aug. 12, 2011, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Smith found that Pfizer’s patent was valid and that Teva’s proposed generic equivalent of Viagra would infringe upon it.
     Shortly thereafter, Pfizer filed a motion for attorneys’ fees related to Teva’s inequitable conduct claim.
     Smith granted Pfizer’s motion and awarded the company $378,285 in attorneys’ fees, the full amount of its request.
     Pfizer adequately proved that Teva’s inequitable conduct claim was “objectively baseless,” and that “Teva could not have reasonably believed its claim would succeed,” the court found.
     As the court held in its previous judgment, there was no evidence to suggest that Pfizer acted with specific intent to deceive the patent office. Teva’s insistence that Pfizer’s patent attorneys acted with “willful blindness” is not sufficient to characterize the company’s actions “as a carefully executed scheme to defraud the patent office,” the court said.
     “Pfizer has demonstrated, by clear and convincing evidence, that Teva’s continued litigation of its claim for inequitable conduct was frivolous,” Smith wrote.

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