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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Supreme Court upholds patent preliminary injunction in Philippines

Pfizer/Warner Lambert, filed patents Atorvastatin in various forms, which it sells under the brand LIPITOR, an anti cholesterol drug. In 2005, Pfizer took action against Sahar International Trading, Inc. (Sahar), who had applied for a marketing approval certificate for Atorvastatin Calcium for sale under its brand Atopitar. Pfizer claimed that the Atorvastatin Calcium in its Atopitar product was in crystalline form so infringed its patent.

After no response to warnings, Pfizer sought an preliminary injunction in the Makati Trial Court in 2008. This was refused for somewhat spurious reasons. Sahar argued the patents were expiring overseas, and its foreign sourced products could thus be sold. The preliminary injunction was the subject of the appeal by Pfizer to the Court of Appeal which granted it.

Then in 2014 the Supreme Court heard Sahar's appeal. It said the injunction was properly granted, the Court of Appeal had found patent infringement and so the Supreme Court made the injunction permanent, awarded both 8,000 USD in damages USD and 1200 exemplary damages and also an award for fees and litigation expenses. It also confirmed the seizure of Sahar’s ATOPITAR.

While not quite up to the damages levels of developed markets, the decision shows how the Philippines top court covered all the bases in its decision.  The hope is that a clear precedent is now set.

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