H. Lundbeck A/S (LUN), the Nordic region’s second-largest drugmaker, was fined 93.8 million euros ($125.6 million) by the European Union in its first case over pay-for-delay deals that held back sales of cheaper generic drugs.
The European Commission, the EU’s antitrust regulator, also fined a group of generic-drug makers a total of 52.2 million euros yesterday in Brussels. The companies reached agreements that may have slowed the availability of generic versions of Lundbeck’s antidepressant citalopram, marketed as Celexa, according to the regulator.
Antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic are focusing on how settlements between companies that make branded medicines and generics producers might harm consumers. Les Laboratoires Servier and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA), the world’s largest generic-drug maker, were sent statements of objections by the EU in probes over possible delays for generic drugs last year.
The EU decision is complemented by a U.S. Supreme Court decision this week that drugmakers can be sued for paying rivals to delay low-cost versions of popular medicines. That decision rewrites the rules governing the release of generic drugs by reversing a lower-court decision that had effectively insulated pharmaceutical companies from liability.
“We are surprised and disappointed that the EU commission has reached this erroneous conclusion, which we totally disagree with, and it is therefore our intention to appeal,” said Ulf Wiinberg, chief executive officer of Copenhagen-based Lundbeck.
Merck KGaA (MRK) was fined 21.4 million euros, of which it will share a 7.8 million-euro penalty with Generics UK, a unit of Mylan Inc. Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. (RBXY) was fined 10.3 million euros. Zoetis Products and Xellia Pharmaceuticals, which was bought last month by Novo A/S, were jointly fined 10.5 million-euros, while AL Industrier AS (ALIA) was held jointly liable with them for 43,216 euros of that amount.
Ranbaxy said in e-mailed statement that the commission “misunderstood the facts” in the case and that it intends to appeal.
Merck is weighing an appeal, Gangolf Schrimpf, a spokesman for the company, said in a phone interview. “The fine will not have any impact on our 2013 financial result,” he said.
Watson Pharmaceutical Inc.’s Arrow unit was fined 10 million euros, of which Resolution Chemicals is jointly held liable for 823,735 euros.
Technicolor Loses Bid to Revive Patent Cases at Trade Agency
Technicolor SA (TCH)’s Thomson Licensing unit lost its appeals court bid to revive patent-infringement claims over liquid-crystal displays against Taiwanese manufacturers including AU Optronics Corp. (2409) and Chimei Innolux Corp. (3481)
Two Thomson patents on LCDs in computers and televisions are invalid, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said yesterday in an opinion posted on its website. The court upheld a ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission in favor of the manufacturers.
In dispute were patents 5,978,063 and 5,648,674.
The case is Thomson Licensing SAS v. International Trade Commission, 2012-1536.
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Apple, Amazon Fail to Settle Trademark Case Over ‘App Store’
Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Amazon.com Inc. failed to settle a trademark-infringement lawsuit over Amazon’s use of “app store” after two rounds of talks in a case scheduled for trial in August.
Lawyers for the companies spoke by phone for 45 minutes on June 14 and an all-day meeting was held on May 1 that included BJ Watrous, Apple’s chief intellectual property attorney, and Andrew DeVore, Amazon’s assistant general counsel, according to filings in federal court in Oakland, California. Neither meeting resulted in settlement, according to the filings, which didn’t have details about the talks. A trial is set for Aug. 19.
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, is seeking a court order to block Amazon from using the term Appstore in its service to sell software for devices running Google Inc.’s Android operating system. Apple alleges the online retailer infringes its trademark and violates unfair competition laws.
Apple started its App Store in 2008. Seattle-based Amazon, which started its service in March 2011, says the term is a generic one that Apple doesn’t have exclusive rights to.
David Eberhart, an Apple attorney, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the case. Marty Glick, a lawyer for Amazon, had no comment.
The case is Apple Inc. v. Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN:US), 11-cv-01327, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).
Unilever’s Challenge to McPherson’s ‘Catwalk’ Application Fails
Unilever Plc (ULVR), the London-based consumer products company, lost a trademark battle in New Zealand, the New Zealand Herald reported.
The dispute was over the term “catwalk,” which Unilever uses for hair-care products, according to the Herald.
McPherson’s Consumer Products Ltd. had applied to register the term for a number of foot- and skin-care products, and Unilever opposed the application, the newspaper reported.
New Zealand’s High Court ruled that the assistant commissioner of trademarks had correctly decided that Unilever’s “catwalk” mark wasn’t that well known in the country, and the consumer products company wasn’t allowed to block McPherson’s application, according to the Herald.
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VKontakte Says Numbers of Takedown Demands Are Increasing
Following approval by Russian lawmakers of a new anti-piracy law June 14, users of VKontakte, Russia’s main social networking site, began finding takedown notices instead of content from their favorite performers, the TorrentFreak copyright and file-sharing news website reported.
VKontakte, which allowed users to upload music to their accounts for access by anyone, had become one of the largest repositories of unlicensed music in the world, according to TorrentFreak.
Company spokesman Georgy Lobushkin told TorrentFreak that while his company had always removed audio and video recordings upon receipt of legitimate complaints, the number of takedown requests has increased.
He said his company is selective in what it removes and most of the audio will remain on the site, according to TorrentFreak.
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