Pfizer Wins Canadian Patent Skirmish

U.S.-based drug-maker Pfizer  scored a win this month at the Canadian Federal Court in its fight with Ranbaxy.  Ranbaxy, a generic drug manufacturer based in New Delhi, is India’s largest pharma company.  The Canadian court granted Pfizer’s application for an order preventing Ranbaxy from launching its generic product in Canada until expiration of Pfizer’s patent in 2016.  It is expected that Ranbaxy will appeal this decision.  Ranbaxy has enjoyed some success in other jurisdictions in getting its generic products approved.

In Canada and the U.S., billions of dollars worth of patented drugs will expire or go “off patent” in the next five years, which means competition will continue to intensify among brand name and generic drug makers for marketshare.  After patents on blockbuster drugs expire, the brand name manufacturers are trying new tactics. Merck’s Zocor cholesterol pill generated over $4 billion in sales in 2006.  After the Zocor patent expired, Merck announced plans in 2007 to cut prices of Zocor to try and stave off competition from incoming generics.  

We’re likely to see more of these patent battles between the Pfizers and Ranbaxys of the world.


Calgary – 11:00 MST

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Google Street View Raises Canadian Privacy Questions

There is something fascinating and unsettling about Street View, a relatively new offering from Google with help from Calgary-based Immersive Media. If you enjoyed finding your own house on Google Earth, then wait until you see yourself strolling down a side-walk on Street View. At the moment, the service is offered for New York, San Francisco and a handful of other US cities. But it doesn’t take long to see the potential for this to be rolled-out in cities around the world.  Reportedly, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City have already been “imaged”.

In anticipation of this coming soon to a street corner in Canada, the Canadian Privacy Commissioner has raised a few questions about the privacy implications of recognizing individuals on the street – in other words, collecting personal information without consent and then selling it.

The law regarding surveillance video will be helpful in the analysis, but this is a new twist on an old problem.  Once again, technology, intellectual property and privacy rights have intersected to stir-up some interesting issues and the law will have to catch-up and sort out the implications. 

Calgary – 10:30 MST

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US Patent Reform

For Canadian inventors and patent owners, the US is almost always the first jurisdiction in which patent protection is pursued.  Last Friday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a long-awaited comprehensive Patent Reform bill that will implement sweeping changes to the U.S. Patent system when it becomes law.  The Senate is expected to pass their bill later this year. For a copy of the bill as passed thus far and further discussion, click here.  Highlights include:

  • Switch: from first-to-invent system to first-to-file system.
  • Damages: damages would be tied to the “economic value [of the invention] properly attributable to the patent’s specific contribution over the prior art”, reducing many damage awards.
  • Treble Damages:  the instances where treble damages will be awarded are restricted, reducing damage awards.
  • Post-Grant Review: post-grant review proceedings would be available within 12–months of issuance .
  • Open Examination: Opening of the system for making submissions of prior art for any patent or pending application.
  • Venue and Jurisdiction: Restrictions on venue would likely remove the popular E.D.Texas as a choice for patent infringement lawsuits.

    The progress of this bill is being closely watched and still hotly debated in the patent and licensing community in the US.
    Calgary – 10:15 MST

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    Thanks Old Economy, We’ll Take It From Here…

    In the midst of the dot-com boom, a brilliant bit of ad copy appeared to promote one of the many overnight companies riding the wave of interest in the “New Economy”. It read “Thanks Old Economy, we’ll take it from here…” and it captured the brash, over-confident tenor of the times.  

    It has become clear since then that the “Old Economy” still has lots of life in it, and the “New Economy” has survived its growing pains to become slightly more mature. 

    KPMG has authored an interesting look at “Enterprise 2.0: Fad or Future?“, the process of applying Web 2.0 technologies to increase efficiency and effectiveness within business.  Many traditional sectors of industry are now adopting new models of transacting business – models that would have appeared revolutionary even to the dot-com boomers in 1999.  And many new companies in the information-media sector are building value in a traditional way, with actual revenue.  In both cases, intellectual property legal issues from copyright to trade-mark to patents are front and centre and require careful management, the old fashioned way.


    Calgary – 10:17 MST

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    Online Defamation Update

    In our earlier post, we highlighted a defamation lawsuit brought against Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo, MySpace and others by a B.C. man who alleged he was defamed by certain online postings.  Multiple lawsuits have been filed. This week in Crookes v. Yahoo, 2007 BCSC 1325, a B.C. court dismissed the case against Yahoo, a California-based company.

    The court disposed of the claim by reasoning that there was no evidence that the alleged defamatory material was accessed by someone in B.C.  “Publication is an essential element for an action in defamation,” said the judge. “In this case … [t]here is no evidence anyone read the material in British Columbia.”

    As a result, the court did not even consider the other issues about whether California law applied under the terms applicable to the online services, nor about the wider issues relating to liability for online content.


    Calgary – 13:35 MST