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The Battle for IP

Executive Summary

Generic firms are increasingly attacking innovators' drug patents before they expire--even, in some cases, the previously invulnerable active ingredient patents--and courts are supporting some of their tactics. The primary means used by generic firms for mounting this offensive campaign: Paragraph IV filings, which claim that the innovator's patent is invalid or won't be infringed. It's a tactic that generic firms are relying on more heavily. While the details of each patent dispute differ widely, one thing is clear: generic firms are finding successful ways to maneuver around existing innovator patents. They are winning in court almost 75% of the time after litigating Paragraph IV challenges. In particular, the Pfizer/Reddy case exposes how generic firms can and will poke holes in an innovator's intellectual property. Notwithstanding that Pfizer had explored and patented the derivative salts of Norvasc, this case highlights how the timing of certain types of patents may be crucial. In addition, it may motivate pharmaceuticals to more comprehensively explore alternative forms and formulations of their compounds. Besides building a portfolio of strong patents, fully exploring the form and formulation space could result in a secondary benefit: discovering a superior product.
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