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12.18.16

With $2.5 Billion in Claimed (and Won) ‘Damages’ in One Single Patent Case of a Pharmaceutical Giant, Does the Patents for ‘Small Guy’ Myth Still Pass Muster?

Posted in Patents at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Even the iconic light bulb invention is an epic example of corporate raiding (Thomas Edison, a famous patent troll-like personality, didn’t invent it)

Hand idea

Summary: A look at a record-breaking patent decision where the winner denies affordable access to medicine and other new examples of large companies crushing small competitors (that are not patent trolls)

WHILE BILLIONAIRES’ favourite media pushes a misleading narrative of "patents for the little guy" it is important to remind ourselves who runs the USPTO, who the USPTO works for, and who the USPTO speaks to (e.g. in consultations that are misleadingly called "roundtables" every once in a few years). Under Battistelli’s autocracy the same thing has been happening at the EPO.

Days ago, not too long before Christmas, Professor Crouch said that “Merck’s sub Idenix was just awarded $2.54 billion for Gilead’s infringement of its Hep-C treatment patents. Asserted patents include Nos. 6,914,054, 7,105,499, 7,608,597, and 8,481,712.. D.Del. Case No.14-cv-00846-LPS. Merck announced that a patent right “guarantees a period of return on investment [and as such] patent protection provides the research-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries with an incentive to invest in research and development.””

Will the money be pumped into R&D? Of course not. Merck is lying as usual (see our articles about Merck [1, 2, 3]). Does society benefit from the increased pricing? Obviously not. Those who benefit here are already-affluent shareholders and executives. “A Delaware jury has ordered Gilead Sciences to pay $2.54 billion in damages to Merck,” MIP wrote. And what for? It’s “for infringing a patent related to hepatitis C treatment.” In other words, monopoly on potentially life-saving drugs. “It is the largest-ever patent damages award,” MIP wrote.

Suffice to say, hepatitis C does not affect many people in rich countries.

Readers of ours, or readers of sites like IP Watch, will certainly understand what’s wrong with this. It also serves to remind us who this patent system is for: billionaires. Not poor, ill, impoverished people.

Here is another new report that asks: “Are preliminary injunctions regarding patents in the drug, chemical and medical device industry more likely to succeed than PIs for other types of patents?”

For those who don’t know what injunctions technically mean, a term like embargo might be more familiar. And who suffers? Or dies? Poor people of course.

Returning to the notion of “reasonable” patent tax, here we have Patently-O entertaining words like “fair”, “reasonable” and “non-discriminatory”, which are spurious euphemisms so often used to soften the image of reduction in access to medicine. To quote Patently-O:

A new draft paper by Professor Michael Risch (Un)Reasonable Royalties positions itself as a major reconsideration of the way that we calculate damages in patent cases. This revolution has been brewing in academic circles, but I expect the spillovers into case law will be coming soon. Over the past few years the Federal Circuit has pushed for more explicit discussion and explanation of damages. (See Lucent and Uniloc). However, Risch argues that the result has been a “piling” of “rigid rules” rather than economic rationality.

There should be ethical rationality, not just economic rationality, assuming that laws should be written for society as a whole, not just top wealth holders (or hoarders). Sadly, we still live in a world where copyright law and patent law are dominated by few conglomerates, to be used as tools of oppression or occupation against the population at large.

“Tile Tech had also destroyed evidence,” said another new article from Patently-O, noting that some firms that are accused of patent infringement are now being treated like criminals (with forensic terminology). To quote:

United Construction was won on default judgment and was awarded a permanent injunction to bar Tile Tech from ongoing infringement of its U.S. Patent No. 8,302,356. Although Tile Tech had participated in the case, it had missed many discovery deadlines and had produced only two document – both of which were nonresponsive. The district court issued an order to comply with a warning that failure to comply would result in default judgment. Tile Tech did not respond to the order and the court then entered default judgment. (Tile Tech had also destroyed evidence …)

So from what we can gather, here we have another relatively small company being pushed around by a much bigger company. The only case where the smaller party is the plaintiff tends to be a classic troll case, where the plaintiff makes nothing at all and just tours the courts (or demands settlements out of court). Where are those mythical stories about little inventors (not patent trolls) ‘sticking it’ to Goliaths?

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