Ariad v Lilly, Part II: The next big patent battle

Michael J. Shuster, Ph.D., co-chair of Fenwick & West's Life Sciences Group was recently quoted in a CNN Money article entitled, "Ariad v Lilly, Part II: The next big patent battle."

The pharmaceutical industry is paying close attention to an upcoming legal show down, slated for August 7, between Ariad Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co. A U.S. District Court jury in May found Eli Lilly liable for patent infringement and ordered $65 million in damages, but Eli Lilly is asking for reconsideration during next week's bench trial.

At issue is a patent for Ariad's experimental drug, AP23573, which covers a method of treating soft-tissue and bone cancers. Critics question the validity of the drug's patent because it attempts to protect the process in which the drug works, not the drug's chemical composition.

Patent lawyer Shuster, with a PhD in biophysics, believes that Ariad's patent is vulnerable, as courts are starting to crack down on patents they see as too broad.

"There's a general notion that patents are becoming anti-competitive; they are throwing up so many roadblocks that it's becoming difficult to bring new products to market," Shuster said. "The courts are trying to decide where to draw the line. How broad is too broad?"

"Too many patents are creating a thicket of claims that have to be navigated in order to bring (patented drugs) to market," he added.

Read the complete article by staff writer Aaron Smith.