The Federal Circuit Court of Appealshas affirmed a District Court ruling that a pet drug violated a patent held by a Sanofi subsidiary, and that an India-based company was in contempt for violating an earlier injunction regarding the patent dispute.The drug, PetArmor Plus, was found to be in infringement of a patent currently held by Sanofi’s Merial unit. PetArmor Plus is a preventative drug used on dogs and cats to deal with fleas and ticks. The patent issue dealt with the composition of the drug, which Merial claimed to have developed and marketed under the name “Frontline.”
PetArmor Plus was produced by Cipla and Velcera Inc, with Cipla manufacturing the drug on behalf of Velcera.
While Cipla is based out of India, Sanofi and Merial are based out of France. The sale of Cipla’s version of the pet medication has been suspended since last June, after the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Georgia ruled in favor of Merial and Sanofi.
The history of this case is interesting. While this is a patent case, the issues presented don’t necessarily deal with patent law as much as they deal with the legal process and the Indian company’s attempts to dance around the legal issues.
In 2008, Merial sued over a variation of a drug that Cipla was producing, claiming that the drug violated a patent held by Merial. After a court enjoined Cipla PetArmor sales, the company went on to produce and market a second drug for flea prevention.
While Merial’s initial lawsuit claimed patent infringement, the subsequent lawsuit — the one that made it to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals — dealt with the fact that Cipla was simply rebranding the banned drug under a new name and selling it.
Cipla trades on the Mumbai Stock Exchange in India. In a statement to the Exchange, the company indicated that it is currently examining its options for appealing the Federal Circuit decision.