CC delivers Pharmacia IP victory in just nine months

Clifford Chance has taken a pharmaceuticals patent case from its start to a Court of Appeal finish in just nine months.

Mayne Pharma v Pharmacia Italia concerned the patent for the drug epirubicin, which is used to treat cancer. Mayne Pharma, an Australian producer of generic drugs, wanted to sell epirubicin in the UK.

But Pharmacia Italia, which is a subsidiary of Pfizer, already owned the UK patent for Pharmorubicin, the branded version of epirubicin. It declined to give an acknowledgement that Mayne’s epirubicin did not infringe that patent, prompting Mayne to seek a declaration in court that it could sell its generic drug in the UK.

Mayne, represented by Taylor Wessing IP partner Simon Cohen, launched its court action last May. Pharmacia responded by counterclaiming for patent infringement. Both parties agreed to get the case heard under new streamlining procedures designed specifically for patent cases, meaning any patent case expected to be heard over a short period of time can be expedited to court.

In the Mayne case, it was agreed that documentary disclosure would not be necessary, and the case was heard by Roger Wyand QC sitting as a deputy High Court judge last October. He found for Mayne, holding that its product did not infringe Pharmacia’s patent, but he did allow an appeal.

The court agreed that the appeal should also be expedited, and the Court of Appeal judged in favour of Pharmacia on 17 February. It was the first case to come to trial under the streamlined procedure.

Clifford Chance partner Peter Taylor, who acted for Pharmacia, said: “I don’t see why streamlining should be limited to patent cases. It was in both parties’ interests to have issues resolved as quickly as possible.”

Taylor, working with fellow partner John Hornby and assistant Justin Lambert, instructed Rich-ard Miller QC of Three New Square for Pharmacia. Taylor Wessing’s Cohen instructed Colin Birss, also of Three New Square, for Mayne.