Justia Patents Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Class Action
In re: Wellbutrin XL Antitrust Litigation
Direct purchasers of Wellbutrin XL, a drug for treating depression, sued, alleging that GSK violated the Sherman Antitrust Act by entering into an unlawful conspiracy with Biovail, GSK’s partner in the development of Wellbutrin XL, to delay the launch of generic versions of the drug. Indirect-purchasers asserted similar theories under state law. The purchasers claim that GSK delayed the launch of generic versions by supporting baseless patent infringement suits and a baseless FDA Citizen Petition aimed at generic drug companies and by entering into an unlawful reverse payment settlement agreement with potential competitors. The district court granted GSK summary judgment, finding insufficient evidence that GSK’s patent litigation was a sham or that the settlement delayed the launch of generic Wellbutrin XL. The court granted GSK’s Daubert motion to exclude the testimony of the purchasers’ economic expert; decertified the indirect-purchaser class for lack of ascertainability; dismissed the indirect-purchaser claims brought under the laws of states that were not the home of a named class representative; and denied Aetna’s motion to intervene. The Third Circuit affirmed. After considering the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision, FTC v. Actavis, the court concluded that the purchasers failed to establish a genuine dispute of fact either as to whether GSK engaged in sham litigation or whether GSK’s actions delayed the launch of generic Wellbutrin XL. View "In re: Wellbutrin XL Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law
Ritz Camera & Image, LLC v. Sandisk Corp.
SanDisk allegedly controls the market for NAND flash memory, a computer chip that can be erased and reprogrammed that is widely used in consumer products such as digital cameras, mobile phones, and USB drives. Retailers purchase from SanDisk, the patentee, and its licensees. Ritz filed a class action, alleging that SanDisk violated the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. 2 by fraudulently procuring patents by failing to disclose prior art and making misrepresentations to the Patent and Trademark Office and established its monopoly by enforcing patents against competitors and by threatening competitors’ customers. SanDisk asserted that Ritz lacked standing to bring a Walker Process antitrust because Ritz faced no threat of an infringement action and had no other basis to bring a declaratory judgment action challenging the patents. The district court rejected the argument, acknowledging that such claims normally are brought by competitors of the patentee as counterclaims in infringement actions, but noting that the Walker Process decision places no limitation on eligible plaintiffs. On interlocutory appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed that a direct purchaser is not categorically precluded from bringing a Walker Process antitrust claim, even if it would not be entitled to seek declaratory relief against the patentee under the patent laws. View "Ritz Camera & Image, LLC v. Sandisk Corp." on Justia Law
In Re: K-Dur Antitrust Litigation
Schering held a patent on the controlled release coating applied to potassium chloride crystals for treatment of potassium deficiencies. Potential generic manufacturers filed an abbreviated application for approval (ANDA),Hatch-Waxman Act, 21 U.S.C. 301-399, asserting that the Schering patent was invalid or would not be infringed by their new generic drugs. Schering’s subsequent infringement suits were resolved through agreements in which it paid the generic manufacturers to drop patent challenges and refrain from producing a generic drug for a specified period. Congress amended Hatch-Waxman to require pharmaceutical companies who enter into such settlements to file for antitrust review. The FTC filed an antitrust action with respect to Schering’s settlements. Plaintiffs sued on behalf of a class of purchasers of the drug. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s certification of the class, but reversed its presumption that Schering’s patent was valid and gave Schering the right to exclude infringing products until the end of its term, including through reverse payment settlements. The court directed use of a “quick look rule of reason analysis” based on economic realities of the settlement rather than labels. The court must treat any payment from a patent holder to a patent challenger who agrees to delay entry into the market as prima facie evidence of unreasonable restraint of trade, rebuttable by showing that the payment was for a purpose other than delayed entry or offers some pro-competitive benefit. View "In Re: K-Dur Antitrust Litigation" on Justia Law