Can Non-Israelis be Subpoenaed to testify in Opposition Proceedings?

June 10, 2018

novartis

Israel Patent Application No. 176831 to Novartis is titled “COMPRESSED PHARMACEUTICAL TABLETS OR DIRECT COMPRESSION PHARMACEUTICAL TABLETS COMPRISING DPP-IV INHIBITOR CONTAINING PARTICLES AND PROCESSES FOR THEIR PREPARATION”. It is the national phase entry of PCT/EP2005/000400.

Unipharm

On allowance, Unipharm filed an Opposition to the patent application being granted.  Within the Opposition proceeding, Unipharm, who for this case, have dispensed with the services of Adv. Adi Levit, their legal counsel and have been handling the Opposition unaided by attorneys, have requested that the Israel Patent Office subpoena  John Hutchinson and Mr Kowalski, workers at Novartis to give testimony.

This request follows an earlier request to reveal documentation regarding testing that was appended to the Expert Witness testimony of Professor Davies, Novartis’ expert witness, which was ordered in an earlier interim ruling of 3 January 2018.

Discovery

In response to the discovery request, Novartis submitted an Affidavit with various appended papers. In light of this, Unipharm now alleges that the Affidavit implies that Novartis has not revealed all documents it should have. Unipharm further indicates that the explanation proffered by Hutchinson, who is signed on the Affidavit, “appears to be odd”. Therefore, Unipharm wish to Subpoena him to cross-examine him on this.

lab bookUnipharm further claims that a document titled “Certificate of Authenticity” was included with respect to the laboratory notebook, parts of which were included in the appendices attached to the affidavit. According to Unipharm, Mr Kowalski, who was one of the named inventors, is signed on this document. Consequently, Unipharm requested to cross-examine him as well.

Novartis requests that Unipharm’s request be rejected. They claim that the Commissioner does not have the authority to subpoena witnesses not within the judicial territory of the State of Israel, who are not direct parties in a proceeding. Novartis also notes that Mr Hutchinson’s signature on the Affidavit accompanying the discovery documents was done in the framework of his employment as a patent attorney in the Legal Department of Novartis. Novartis claims that ALL information regarding the management of the proceeding is subject to legal confidentiality and may also be considered as being a trade-secret.

As to Mr Kowalski, he never signed an Affidavit of Evidence in the process and is not a party to it. Similarly Novartis claims that Unipharm has not stated why they need to cross-examine that inventor who was one of three named inventors.

Discussion

The witnesses that the Opposer wished to interrogate are beyond the territorial jurisdiction of Israel and are not parties in the case. Thus the Applicant is correct that Section 163b of the Patent Law 1967 that Unipharm referred to is not a legal basis for their being subpoenaed. The references that Unipharm related to in their request, dealt with witnesses that gave Affidavits or expert witness testimony, and thus could be subpoenaed for cross-examination purposes.

A party that wishes to subpoena a citizen or foreign resident to testify must do so under the International Inter-State Legal Assistance Law 1998. See Appeal 3810/06 Dori and Zacovsky Building and Investments Ltd vs. Shamai Goldstein, paragraph 17, 24 September 2007.

Section 47 of the Legal Assistance Law states:

The Authority is allowed to request from another country, that testimony be collected, including that physical evidence be transferred for display in Israel, if the court allows that the evidence is required to hold the trial in Israel; regarding this law, and where the case is pending, the term court refers to the tribunal that is hearing the case.

From the wording of this Section, it transpires that the court will open a proceeding to summon foreign witnesses to a hearing only if it is convinced that their testimony is necessary to conduct the proceeding. In this instance, the Commissioner considers that there is significant doubt as to whether the presence of the witnesses for cross-examination purposes is really required.

Unipharm has requested to cross-examination Mr Kowalski regarding an Affidavit for discovery that he is signed on. The purpose of the discovery process is to enable the main proceeding to be handled efficiently; legal proceedings with face-up cards where each party knows what documents the other parties hold to prevent surprises at the hearing. By this means, unexpected delays are prevented, allowing the court to reveal the truth. Appeal 4235/05 Bank Mizrachi United vs. Ronit Peletz, 14 August 2015.

Opposite the principle of discovery, there are other interests such as efficiency of the court proceeding, defense of the legitimate interests of the party revealing documents, and preventing damage to the interests of third parties – See Appeal 2534/02 Yehuda Shimshon vs. Bank HaPoalim ltd. p.d. 56(5) 193. So the case-law has ruled more than once that it will not allow cross-examination of affidavits of this kind, if they are properly presented (see Appeal 2376/13 Rami Levy Shikma Marketing Ltd vs. Moshe Dagan 8 July 2014, and Zusman Civil Procedures 7th Edition, page 436.

This general rule has two exceptions: The first is that where reading of the Affidavit alone or with reference to its citations, that the Affidavit is defective, the court can order the party revealing documents to file a further Affidavit. Second, where the issue of confidentiality is used, the court can examine the document and decide if this claim is reasonable (see for example, Appeal 240/73 Baruch Vilker vs. Dov Tishler, 205, 2 December 1971 and Appeal 6823/05 Abraham Roimi vs. Bank Leumi of Israel, 12 January 2016.

In this instance, Unipharm did not append an Affidavit, detail or justify why they considered that the current case is one of these exceptions. Thus the Commissioner cannot rule that this is the case, and so the request is rejected.

As to the evidence of Mr Kowalski, Unipharm did not claim that there was any connection between the documents appended to the Affidavit of the Discovery and to the experiments that were appended to Novartis’ evidence, which was the basis of the original discovery request. Note, Mr Kowalski’s signature is only on the Certificate of Authenticity taken from the lab-book that was appended to some pages therefrom that were submitted in the discovery documents. In these circumstances, it is not clear what value Mr Kowalski’s testimony has, even were he to be subpoenaed.

In light of this, the Commissioner does not consider that the requirements of Section 47 of the Law of Legal Assistance are fulfilled with regard to Mr Hutchinson or Mr Kowalski.

The Request is refused. Unipharm will cover Novartis’ costs and their legal expenses to the tune of 2000 Shekels + VAT. These costs will be paid within 30 days.

Interim Ruling in Opposition to IL 175831 Ofer Alon, 30 April 2018.

Comment

It is possible that Mr Tomer has indeed bitten off more than he can chew by handling legal issues procedural issues such as requesting subpoenaing witnesses without legal counsel. However, the costs ruled against him are trivial when considering the issue in question. The Unipharm’s Expert Witness cannot testify to things that he does not know such as what else was in the lab-book, and in Opposition proceedings there is no assumption of validity of the patent. Thus it would be premature to write this request off as a strategic or even a tactical error.


Bayer – Part II – Are Patents for Bio-Similars Elligible for Patent Term Extensions???

June 5, 2018

This is the second part of a ruling concerning Patent Term Extensions (PTEs) for Kovaltry. The first part related to when the ninety day period from registration commences and is discussed here.

This second part of the ruling is a precedential decision that rules whether a patent for a bio-pharmaceutical material such as a protein can be can be considered as being a basic patent if there is a previously registered bio-similar molecule; it being appreciated that the amino acid sequence may be the same, but the spatial structure, activity and efficacy may still be different. In view of its legal and financial significance, the decision is fully translated below. We apologize for any incorrect technology. 

After the request for a patent term extension for Kovaltry was received from Bayer, the Patent Office issued an Office Action as follows:

Paragraph 6 of the Affidavit appended to the letter of 22 August 2017 notes that there is no other formulation that includes Recombination Human Coagulation Factor VIII, fabricated by the defined cell culture and the defined conditions under which KOVATLRY is manufactured. It is possible that the Blood Coagulation factor claimed in the Application is different from the Blood Coagulation Factors that have been registered, but the Active Ingredient of the Recombination Human Coagulation Factor VIII formulation is registered in the registry of pharmaceutical formulations in various formulations mentioned hereinabove.

The other medical formulations mentioned as including Factor VIII were Novoeight, Octanate 1000, Koate and Kogenate.

Kovaltry

On 11 December 2017, the Applicant responded to the Office Action and claimed that the active ingredient, the Recombinant Human Coagulation Factor VIII, is a new material derived from a new genetic engineering process that is protected in the present application, and that Kovaltry is the first formulation that allows its medical usage in Israel, as required for a patent term extension in Section 64D(3) of the Law.

The Applicant explained that Factor VIII is intended for treating Hemophilia A which is characterized by a problem with blood clotting due to a fault in or a lack of Factor VIII. In the new process covered by the Application, the heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) is introduced into the gene of the host cell and additional actions are taken to produce the active ingredient, which creates a new protein Factor VIII, which has a different structure from other proteins that relate to a lack of endogens in the Factor VIII coagulant. The structure of the protein, as applied for in the Application is as follows:

Bayer

The Applicant further explained that the folding structure of the protein is different due to the manufacturing route, and it attracts a lot of sugar groups (glycans), which allow the protein to automatically fold and provides a pharmokinetic advantage to the protein when compared to other formulations. In this regard, the Applicant notes that most properties, such as the glycan group appended, which have been glycosylated, are relevant to the half-life of the protein in the blood.

The Applicant claims that the registration file of the Kovaltry formulation indicates that the Ministry of Health considered the formulation to have a new active ingredient, and so it had to undergo the specific regulatory requirements of the Ministry of Health. The Applicant relies on the Procedure of the Ministry of Health for registering products of this type; Changes and Innovation in Medical Formulations from 1 February 2015, which differentiates between six different categories for registration.

According to the Applicant, when the Israel Ministry of Health relates to the Recombination Human Coagulation Factor VIII as being a new active ingredient as far as registration in the drug register is concerned, one has to apply a similar rationale when considering the drug for a patent term extension in order to fulfill the purpose of the legislation which is the underlining logic of the patent term extension, which is to compensate the patentee for the period when he cannot market the formulation containing the patented product due to regulatory requirements. The Applicant argues that one should differentiate between medical formulations that have active chemical ingredients that are small molecules, and biological formulations that are differentiated by proteins manufactured in different ways. They argue that the different proteins are typically different from each other in both their structure and their physical properties.

From the claims it transpires that the difference results from the way that the protein is manufactured. The applicant explained and supported their explanation with various appendices, the manufacture of a biological pharmaceutical formulation that includes proteins is very difficult due to the size of the protein, the way it folds, the general structure, changes in translating the chain of amino acids to create the protein, the cell culture used to manufacture the proteins, and so on. All changes lead to changes in the protein itself, in its. glycosylation and medical effect.

Due to these differences, the Applicant alleges that Health Ministries around the world have created different regulatory procedures for biological pharmaceutical formulations. They claim that even though there may be several medical formulations for addressing a lack of a particular enogen, such as Factor VIII, due to the issues raised above, they will be different from each other in practice. Furthermore, their active elements which cause blood clotting will be different and have different international classification.

In their response, the Applicant further explained that there are other formulations that treat Hemophilia A, which are fabricated in different ways such as by separating active ingredients from human plasma, formulations obtained by genetic engineering of part or a full gene, formulations that include healed proteins and formulations that include Factor VIII with additional proteins.  The Applicant claims that these formulations are completely different from Kovaltry, despite their purpose being to overcome the endogenic lack of the blood clotting Factor VIII as described above.

The Applicant focused on the differences between the active ingredients of the medical formulations cited by the Examiner and the active ingredient of Kovaltry. As to Kogenate, the Applicant claimed that its active ingredient was different to Factor VIII, even though the sequence of amino acids was the same, since the proteins of the structure are different at the gene level and the protein level. The Applicant appended journal articles that related to the differences between the formulations as an example of improved pharmakinetics.

In light of the above, the Applicant considers that one cannot apply Section 64D(3) of the Law in the same way for biopharmaceuticals when comparing active ingredients with prior art as is done for chemical pharmaceuticals.

In response to these claims, the Deputy Chief Examiner responded in a letter of 31 December 2017, that obtaining the strict regulatory approval required for pharmaceuticals is no indication that a patent term extension is also appropriate. To support this differentiation, the Deputy Chief Examiner referred to 223/09 H. Lundbeck A/S vs. Unipharm ltd et al (22 May 2009).

The letter also notes that the journal papers appended to the response explain that the process for obtaining Factor VIII in the patent in question creates a new protein with a different structure, with glycosylation and different pharmakinetic properties which affect the half-life of the protein in the blood, but do not influence the formulation, and the protein that is the active ingredient of Kovaltry is Factor VIII which exists in Kogenate and other pharmaceutical preparations.

Furthermore, the Deputy Chief Examiner considered that the improved glycosylation or the addition of the HPS70 may affect the folding and could be a new process, but the registration of a medical preparation is given for a formulation and not for the process of manufacture, and differences in the Factor VIII are simply a bi-product of the processing route.

The Deputy Chief Examiner added that though the process of manufacturing the proteins in Kovaltry and Kogenate are different with a difference that expresses itself in yield, better cells and other repeatability differences, the sequence of amino acids is the same, despite the amount of glycans that underwent glycosylation on the proteins So compared to preparations that were registered earlier than Kovaltry, the Deputy Chief Examiner rejected the Applicant’s claims with respect to each of the formulations.

On 7 February 2018, the Applicant submitted a request for a hearing regarding the rejection, and submitted a further statement of claims on 20 February 2018. O 25 February 2018 an ex-partes hearing was held before the Commissioner during which the Applicant reiterated their claims and added the following claims:

Factor VIII is a complex protein and changes in the process result in significant changes to the structure thereof and to the medical affect thereof. Consequently, when comparing twoproteins to ascertain whether or not they are the same material, one has to consider the structure and not merely the sequence of amino acids which is the first stage of characterization, but also the three dimensional form and the intracellular activity.

After the hearing, the Applicant submitted a summary on 1 March 2018 that proposed an appropriate test for considering the novelty of biopharmaceuticals. The proposed test has three levels. Firstly one should consider if the material is a biological medicine. Then one should consider if the protein has a new structure, and finally various tests for determining whether a protein is new or not, such as whether it is a specific protein, whether the regulatory approval was Read the rest of this entry »


IPR or AIPPI???

February 27, 2018

conferencesI was contacted by a trainee patent attorney who wishes to attend one of the forthcoming IP conferences in Israel but is not sure which one is better value for money.  The firm where she works are prepared to recognize her attendance as a day of work rather than a vacation, but are not prepared to pay for her participation.

ipr-logoThe 6th Annual Best Practices in Intellectual Property is hosted by the IPR and will take place on March 12th and 13th 2018.

 

aippi-israelThe Third International Conference on the Economics of Innovation is hosted by the AIPPI on April 30th-May 1st 2018 which may interfere with participation in International Workers’ Day, but I suspect that few IP practitioners in Israel actually march.

(The big international conferences fall over Jewish festivals this year. INTA is in Seattle, USA, but overlaps Shavuot. The AIPPI 2018 World Conference in Cancun, Mexico is over Suckot).

Although I believe that firms taking on trainees should invest in them and both the IPR and AIPPI Israel conferences include sessions that provide excellent training for the bar exams and/or professional development, clearly the cost of such conferences adds up rapidly for large firms if they send all of their staff. I can also appreciate why an IP firm may not want someone not yet qualified appear to represent them, when wandering around a conference and meeting potential clients and associates or actual clients and associates.

apprentice payNevertheless, on the salary of a trainee, particularly one with family commitments, both conferences are costly. A significant number of trainees are new immigrants that are self-not living with their parents. Those unluckily enough to be on a percentage of salary may not earn a minimum wage and I believe their ‘mentors’ should be struck off. But even those earning a reasonable fixed trainee salary may find that laying out 850 Shekels for a day of training lectures, is difficult to justify, despite the high quality lunch and coffee breaks and the possibility to pick up a couple of pieces of swag from exhibitors.

fair priceThis does not mean that either conference is objectively expensive when considering the standard of the program and the costs involved in hosting such events in expensive hotels, the quality of the refreshments and the cost of such programs abroad. However, I can certainly see why someone paying for himself or herself may not be able to justify for both events.

mingling 2Licensed In-House practitioners may well be able to get their companies to pick up the tab for them to attend both conferences, and unless swamped with urgent work, I can see many IP managers preferring to schmooze with colleagues and to attend lectures rather than sitting in their offices.  I suspect the coffee break refreshments and lunches provided also compare well to the canteen food or lunch voucher allowance of most hi-tech companies.

trainingIP boutiques are, of course, able to evaluate the relevance of the training for their different staff members, and will no-doubt consider this when deciding who to send to which conference.

As with all such conferences, some sessions will be highly relevant to one’s day to day work, but perhaps lacking in material one doesn’t already know. Similarly, some sessions will be focused on IP issues that may be completely irrelevant to one’s day to day practice.  In this regard, apart from keynote lectures, both conferences have parallel sessions, and one is advised to carefully select presentations to attend that are at least one of the adjectives selected from the group comprising: relevant, intellectually stimulating and informative.

bpip 2018The Best Practices in Intellectual Property conference hosted by Kim Lindy and the IPR is perhaps mis-named. Apart from one session on trade-secrets, the entire program is dedicated to patents and the conference is very much focused on practical aspects of patent management. The conference is particularly targeted at In-House counsel in industry and has much to interest independent patent attorneys in private practice, partners and attorneys at IP firms. However, it seems to have little of interest to those who earn their living managing trademark or copyright portfolios. Sadly in my opinion, it also does not address design law which is a rapidly changing field in Israel.

jam packedThere will be little at the “Best Practices in Intellectual Property” conference to interest academics. However, the program is jam-packed with relevant sessions for prosecuting patents and managing patent portfolios which is what very many in-house IP managers do, and also is the bread-and-butter work of most patent attorneys in private practice.

variety packThe AIPPI conference titled “The Economics of Innovation” uses the term innovation very widely and is much broader in scope than the “Best Practices in Intellectual Property” conference In that features sessions on trade-secrets, design law, trademarks, Copyright, traditional knowledge, taxation of IP and Internet & Privacy. Many of the sessions look at the issue of overlapping types of protection.

madagascan periwinkle

Madagascan Periwinkle, used to treat Hodgkin’s Disease

One of the AIPPI sessions is titled “Traditional Medicine – the influence of IP on Commercial Use and Economic Aspects”. This is not the first time the topic of traditional knowledge has been covered in Israel. Back in 2011, I helped
Dr Shlomit Yantizky Ravid of ONO Academic College organize a three-day traditional knowledge conference that brought representatives from a large number of developing countries and sympathetic US academics that was sponsored by WIPO.  Dr Irving Treitel, a patent attorney who deals with life science patents, especially pharmaceuticals (who was then working for me at JMB Factor & Co.) responded on behalf of the profession. Prof. Shuba Ghosh was the keynote speaker then, as now. Despite much advertising in the press, only some 30-40 people participated in the conference – virtually all speakers of foreign delegates. Apart from Dr Treitel and myelf, I don’t recall any other IP practitioners attending that free conference. I applaud the AIPPI bringing IP issues to the attention of local practitioners, but I doubt that this session will attract a large attendance despite the prestigious panelists.

 

taxCertainly patent attorneys, whether in-house or in private practice, should be familiar with the different types of protection available to be able to advise or at least refer clients.  Patent Attorneys should also be aware of tax issues, at least broadly, to be able to refer their clients to accountants where appropriate to do so. There are very many large US firms registered in Delaware that conduct R&D in Israel. There are also many firms that are physically based in Israel, but decide to incorporate in the US for political reasons, and these include start-ups as well as larger firms. I have clients that have fairly small staff but are incorporated as an IP holding company that owns the patents, trademarks, copyrights and designs and a separate manufacturing company that licenses the IP assets. The tax issues are not something that a patent attorney deals with, but attorneys-in-law may practice IP and tax law, and in-house legal counsel may deal with IP and taxation.  Apart from understanding how tax issues affect their own income and how various taxes can be legally avoided and what is considered illegal evasion and criminal, I believe that IP professionals not practicing tax law should nevertheless have a general grasp of the tax issues that face their clients to be able to advise them where they should seek guidance from a tax attorney, accountant of tax-consultant.

In summary, both conferences are value for money. People only having the time or budget to attend one should consider which one to go very carefully, and it is worth working out in advance which sessions to attend.


November 8, 2017


LES Israel and IPAA invite you to an event on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 09:00-
12:30 at ZOA House (אמריקה ציוני בית ,(26 Ibn Gabirol St. (corner of Daniel Frisch St.), Tel
Aviv (The presentations will start at 9:30).
The event will be dedicated to the topic:
Patent Term Extension Peculiarities
Israel and Europe
The topic will be presented by distinguished speakers, as follows:
 Mr. Liad Whatstein (Liad Whatstein, Adv.), Founding Partner of the Israeli law firm Liad
Whatstein & Co.:
Patent Term Extensions under Israeli law – The Eccentricities of The Local System
 Mr. Tjibbe Douma (Tjibbe Douma, Adv.), Senior Associate at the law firm of De Brauw
Blackstone Westbroek NV, The Netherlands; and
Ms. Tessa Malamud-Cohen (Tessa Malamud-Cohen, European and Israeli Patent Attorney),
Director, Patents, Global Intellectual Property of Ferring Pharmaceuticals/Bio-Technology
General (Israel) Ltd.:

SPC Squatting: SPCs Based on Third Party Marketing Authorization
 Mr. Tal Band (Tal Band, Adv.), Head of the IP Practice Group in the Israeli law
firm S. Horowitz & Co.:
Patent Term Extensions in Israel – When is it “Game Over”?

We will allocate some time at the end of the event for discussion and welcome comments
from the audience.
The event is free to LES Israel and IPAA members.
Non-members: NIS 70 charge.

Kindly confirm your participation by return email to les_israel@yahoo.com.

COMMENTS

The speakers are considered distinguished by IPAA and LES. I’ve cut and pasted their notification verbatim. I do not disagree, but merely wish to note, that the adjective is not one I chose. The speaker list is balanced in that Tal represents TEVA who usually are generics opposing patent term extensions (although recently trying to reinvent Copaxone to keep it evergreen). Liad works for the patent developers who try to obtain patent term extensions, and Tessa works in-house in the industry. I do not remember meeting Mr. Tjibbe Douma and suspect with a name like that, I would.

counting-sheepMy extensive practice has not involved patent term extensions since I split with Jeremy Ben-David, whose father, Dr Stanley Davis, drafted the Neurim patents for Circadin, whose UK Patent Term Extension went to the European Court of Justice, see here, here, here, etc, so the event has little interest to me personally, although is clearly important for the pharma crowd. Perhaps we should let sleeping sheep lie.


Teva Abandons Opposition but Application Ruled Invalid Anyway

July 5, 2017

 

AstellasAstella Pharma filed Israel Patent Application No. 178249 titled “Pharmaceutical Composition for use in Solid Formulation Crystalline Solifenacin or Salt Thereof and a Process for its Preparation”. The Application was the national phase of PCT/JP/2005/005377 which was filed on 24 March 2005 and claimed priority from a couple of earlier US provisional applications.

The Application relates to a solid pharmaceutical containing Solifenacin or Solifenacin Succinate that is up to 77% amorphous as determined using NMR.

solef moleculeThe Application was allowed, and on 27 February 2002 Teva Pharmaceuticals submitted an Opposition. On 26 June 2013, Astella requested permission to amend the specification. Teva opposed some of the amendments and in an interim ruling of 19 May 2014 Ms Jacqueline Bracha approved some of the amendments, which were then published for Opposition purposes, and since no oppositions were submitted, were then allowed. This ruling relates to the amended specification.

On 29 July 2015, instead of submitting an amended statement of case, Teva abandoned the Opposition. Nevertheless, on 27 March 2016, in a detailed ruling, Ms Bracha explained to Astella that under the Authority granted by Section 34 of the Law, she was refusing to grant the patent. The ruling was based on two publications that Teva had submitted in the Original statement of case that showed that persons of the art would expect the rate and degree of solubility to increase with increased amorphousness of a tablet. On 22 May 2016 the Applicant requested an oral hearing which was held on 4 January 2017 and this ruling follows that hearing.

Applicant’s Claims

Astella, represented by Gilat Bareket, claimed that in a Section 34 proceeding, the burden of proof is on the Commissioner. The claim that since the Opposition was abandoned and following allowance by the Examiner, there is an assumption of validity. Therefore, the Commissioner has to overcome this rebuttable assumption.

The Applicant claims that the prior art describes a process for fabricating Solifenacin hydrochloride crystals. It did not relate to amorphous Solifenacin or to degradation of the amorphous Solifenacin or to medical formulations comprising Solifenacin Succinate.

The Applicant claims that there is a continuous decrease of the active ingredient due to degradation which they determined to be due to the amorphous Solifenacin that is produced in when preparing the tablets.

The Applicant clarified that restricting the amount of the amorphous Solifenacin to no more than 77% increases the stability and reduces degradation to rates tolerable in Japan. Furthermore, the Applicant found that when the fabrication process is wet granulation they can control the amount of amorphous material by controlling the moisture levels. They also claim that using PEG as a binder also lowers the degradation, however the Deputy Commissioner notes that this was not claimed and is thus not part of the invention.

As stated, the invention is intended to provide a stable formulation with less than 0.4% degradation of Solifenacin Succinate in the total amount.

The discussion related to the following publications:

  • Ahlneck and G. Zografi., The Molecular Basis of Moisture Effects on the Physical and Chemical Stability of Drugs in the Solid State,Int. J. PHARM., vol. 62(2-3) (1990) – “Appendix 10”;
  • Y.Shalaev and G. Zografi., How Does Residual Water Affect the Solid-State Degradation of Drugs in the Amorphous State?, J. PHARM. SCI., vol. 85(11) (1996) –  “Appendix 9”;
  • C. Hancock and G. Zografi., Characteristics and Significance of the Amorphous State in Pharmaceutical Systems, J. PHARM. SCI., vol. 86(1)(1997) – “Appendix 11”.

The Burden of Proof

The Applicant alleges that the burden of proof resides with the Commissioner. In Y Kedmi “On Evidence”, 4th Edition 2009, it is stated that the burden of evidence depends on the substantive law:

The determination regarding which side bears the burden of proof depends on two basic principles:

  • “The one seeking redress has the burden of proof” [Baba Kama 46a] and this may be plaintiff or the defendant, depending on circumstances.
  • “Evidence follows the Substantive Law” – both when establishing the basis of the legal claim / defense, and when overcoming presumptions.

burden of proofAs a general rule, the burden of proof that a patent application is registerable is on the Applicant see 665/84 Sanofi ltd. vs Unipharm ltd. p.d. 41(4) 729 and Appeal 645-06-13 Unipharm vs. Lilly Icos, 26 January 2014.

The Opposition is considered as a completion of the Examination, and the allowability is reconsidered. It serves to protect the integrity of the register and the executive examination, see Opposition of IL 136482 Bromium Compounds ltd vs. Albermarle Corporation USA, 7 November 2010:

It appears that the attitude of the court has changed since then. Now the Supreme Court sees the Opposition process as a completion of the executive examination that is designed to ensure the public interest and the integrity of the register.

The public interest that the Opposition proceedings serves is detailed in 2826/04 Commissioner of Patents vs. Recordati Ireland Ltd. p.d. 59(2) 85.

The purpose of the Section 34 proceeding is identical to that of Oppositions, i.e. to maintain the integrity of the register, see the Section 34 ruling concerning IL 156034 Serguei Borisovish Sivolovenko vs. Diamcad NV, 25 January 2015:

The Section 34 proceeding is another hurdle that the Applicant may have to negotiate before receiving a patent. During this proceeding, the Commissioner is allowed to consider all the material before him from the Opposition proceeding, and to decide whether to uphold the Examiner’s decision or to change it. The purpose is no different from that of Examination or Oppositions, and is to protect the integrity of the register and the public interest to not issue patents contrary to Section 3 of the Law. Successful negotiation of the Examination stage does not bestow a right to a patent.

The patentee’s right to a monopoly for the patented invention is in rem. Consequently he has to show that the invention fulfils all the requirements of patentability under the Law. The burden of proof only changes once a patent issues. This was clarified by Commissioner Kling in IL 142896 and IL 179379 Medice Arzneimittel GmbH & Co.KG Alkermes Pharma Ireland Ltd, 4 April 2017.

In a cancellation proceeding, the burden of proof that a patent is invalid is on the Requester for cancellation. For example, this was established in Appeal 8802/06 Unipharm ltd. vs. Smithkline Beecham PLC, 18 May 2011:

Section 37 of the Law completes this idea by establishing that Examination and granting of a patent do not guarantee it has validity. So the issuance of a patent by the Commissioner does not create a non-rebuttable assumption of validity. It merely establishes that the Commissioner considered it issuable. (appeal 47/87 Hasam Systems for Defence of Trustworthiness ltd. vs. Bahari, p.d. 45(5) 194, 201-202 (1991). However, the burden of proof that an issued patent is invalid is on the party claiming invalidity (See Appeal 665/84 Sanofi vs. Unipharm ltd. p.d. 41(4) 729, 736 (1987), Appeal 700/78 Isisco International Company for Solar Energy Systems ltd. vs. Banit, p.d. 34(1) 757, 763 (1979).
Thus, before a patent issues, the burden of proof is on the Applicant.

Validity of Patent Application

On page 2 of the Application, the Applicant notes that solifenacin was known as was its efficacy for treating diseases of the urinary tract, salts of solifenacin and the crystalline state of solifenacin hydrochloride and methods of manufacture.

VesicareSolifenacin Succinate was used in Vesicare, see accompanying flyer which was published in December 2004, before the priority date of the present application. The synthesis of Solifenacin Succinate is also described in the prior art (Appendix 3 of the Opposer’s Statement).

The Applicant claims that during development of the formulation they discovered that there is degradation where the amorphous state is present. The Applicant claims that the prior art was unaware of this phenomenon and thus did not address it.

Appendix 9 page 1137 teaches that exposure of solid pharmaceuticals to high moisture results in degradation:

“It is widely recognized in the pharmaceutical field that exposure of solid drugs (small molecules or proteins) to high relative humidity and the resulting association of water vapor with the solid generally accelerate the rate of chemical degradation.”

Further on it is mentioned that the instability typically occurs in the amorphous part of the formulation:

“…most instabilities observed for drugs occur in solution much more readily than in the solid state; when they do occur over practical time scales in the solid state, it is very likely that the reaction is taking place in the more disordered amorphous regions of the solid. Indeed, it has been shown in a number of cases that under otherwise identical conditions reactivity of a particular substance in the amorphous state is greater than that in the crystalline state.”

Appendix 11 teaches that in cases where the active ingredient is found in an amorphous form, this is likely to accelerate the degradation. However, sometimes, the amorphous form spontaneously crystallizes:

“The high internal energy and specific volume of the amorphous state relative to the crystalline state can lead to enhanced dissolution and bioavailability, but can also create the possibility that during processing or storage the amorphous state may spontaneously convert back to the crystalline state.

… In the first, a material may exist intrinsically in the main amorphous state or it may be purposefully rendered amorphous and we would like to take advantage of its unique physical chemical properties. Under these circumstances we usually want to develop strategies to prevent physical and chemical instability of the amorphous sample. In the second case, we may be dealing with a crystalline material that has been inadvertently rendered amorphous during processing. This type of amorphous character usually exists predominantly at surfaces at levels not easily detected and has the potential to produce unwanted changes in the physical and chemical properties of the system. In this situation we usually want to process the system so that the amorphous portions of the solid are converted back to the most thermodynamically stable crystalline state.”

amorphousThe Application describes attempts by the applicant to prove that there is a connection between the amorphous state and the results of degradation F1 (table 2 on page 38 of the Application.

The Applicant compared the stabilities of samples 1-4 that included 63%, 73%, 715 and 7% amorphous material, with samples 1-3 that contained 92%, 90% and 92% amorphous material. However, the results of table 2 do not show a clear correlation between the amount of amorphous material and the F1 decomposition product. For example, example 1 had 63% amorphous material but only 0.31% F1, whereas example 2 had 73% amorphous material but only 0.29% F1, and in comparative sample 1 with 92% amorphous material  there was 0.48% F1, and in comparative sample 3 with 92% amorphous material  there was 0.4% F1.

Furthermore, as can be seen from table 2, the moisture of the granulate influences the F1 breakdown product, and can at least partially explain the difference between the results of comparison samples 1 and 3. The Applicant claims that there is some correlation between the water content of the granulate and the amount of amorphous material but it is not certain that the amorphous material content influences the amount of F1 degradation product.

japaneseFurthermore, it appears that the 0.4% limit that the Applicant set was based on the Japanese Health Ministry requirements and was not empirically determined. The Applicant admits that the Japanese acceptable limit was 0.5% and 0.4% is preferable. Table 2 shows that even where the amorphous quantity exceeded 77%, less than 0.5% of F1 was obtained.

Even if we assume that the Japanese Ministry of Health limits are desirable, the applicant has not established that there is a problem attaining these limits that the invention overcomes, due to the stability of the salt. The 77% amorphous material limit is also not empirically established. The Applicant was not able to produce Solifenacin Succinate with more than 0.5% F1 degradation product, and there is no linear connection between moisture content and amorphous material content.

Applicant does not deny that amorphous Solifenacin Succinate can spontaneously crystallize (see Appendix 2 and letter of 5 December 2012 and “Analysis of Appeal in European examination file from 17 April 2012 that the Applicant submitted in the corresponding European application. The slight differences in F1 product are even less significant due to this spontaneous crystallization.

There are a few more paragraphs regarding the various compositions and the binder (that wasn’t claimed and then, the Deputy Commissioner states that) from another angle, Appendix 9 teaches that there is a close connection between moisture and the amount of amorphous material present – page 113:

“Generally, for reactions occurring in the amorphous solid state, the rate of reactivity increases with increasing water content, and this can be attributed to the ability of the amorphous solid to absorb water vapor into its bulk structure, forming an amorphous solution. In a few cases it has been reported that a certain amount of water must be present to ensure chemical stability, e.g., lipid peroxidation rates decrease with the addition of small amounts of water; however, a destabilizing effect of absorbed water is more generally the case for the major types of drug degradations, e.g., hydrolysis, oxidation, or deamidation.”

So it seems that average persons of the art at the time in question would conclude that limiting moisture would limit the amorphous material in the formulation and this would, in turn, limit degradation. Consequently, this has no inventive step whatsoever.

CONCLUSION

The invention is wholly lacking in inventive step and so the IL 178249 Application is rejected.

COMMENTS

I am not a pharmacist, but have a fairly strong background in chemistry. It seems to me to be fairly obvious how to control the crystallization rate and extent, and how this will affect solubility. Possibly high school thermodynamics in inadequate, but a basic undergraduate course of chemical thermodynamics is more than adequate to predict this invention, so it seems to me that the Deputy Commissioner was correct to refuse the patent.

Formally, the Opposer is wrong to claim that the onus of proof is on the Commissioner. The case-law considers the Opposition proceeding as part of Examination and does not assume that the Examiner concluding that an invention is patentable establishes a presumption of validity. TEVA’s withdrawal of their Opposition may have been a commercial decision. In practice, although formally Israel requires an inventive step, an Examiner has to show anticipation or obviousness not to grant a patent. TEVA made some of the scientific literature of record, and the Deputy Commissioner was correct to relate to it.

This decision seems to be correct. However Astella, may appeal it to the courts.


Unipharm Awarded 200,000 Shekels Costs

July 3, 2017

UnipharmIn the past we reported the ruling concerning Unipharm’s Opposition to IL 195087 to Novartis. On winning the Opposition, Unipharm filed a request for costs.

OVERVIEW OF OPPOSITION

The patent published for opposition purposes on 31 October 2012, and Unipharm submitted their Opposition on 3 January 2013, and a statement of case on 26 February 2013. The Applicant amended the application on 26 June 2013, and as no opposition to the amendments were submitted by Unipharm or by the public, the amendments were allowed. There was an intermediate attempt to have the case thrown out that Novartis lost, where costs of 5000 Shekels were awarded to Unipharm on 24 February 2014.

On 24 February 2017, an oral proceeding took place. The Opposer submitted their summation on 24 August 2016, and the Applicant submitted their summation on 30 November 2016; response to which was filed on 20 December 2016.

In a ruling of 21 February 2017, the Opposition was accepted and the application was rejected.

Following Unipharm winning the Opposition proceeding, they submitted a request for costs, asking for 311,217 Shekels as follows:

  1. Refund of 2000 Shekels filing fee for filing opposition
  2. 5000 Shekels previously ruled against Unipharm for unsuccessful interim proceeding consisting of trying to get the Opposition thrown out
  3. 5000 Shekels awarded against Opposer in decision of 28 July 2015 regarding getting some of the evidence struck from the record
  4. 34,392 Shekels for interim proceedings
  5. 72,549 Shekels for preparing for cross-examination and attending hearing
  6. 108,980 Shekels for summation
  7. 48,296 Shekels for analyzing and responding to Applicant’s summation
  8. 35,000 Shekels for preparing the request for costs

The request for costs was supported by an Affidavit from CEO Mr Zebulun Tomer.

In the early stages of the Opposition, Unipharm was not represented. Mr Zebulun Tomer filed the Opposition himself and only after filing a statement of case, was Adv. Adi Levit employed. Mr Tomer additionally requested costs for his own time, but did not elaborate.

The Applicant alleged that the costs requested were not justified and were exaggerated. Applicant also alleged that a lot of the costs, such as costs incurred in trying to get evidence struck from the record, were not refundable.

The Ruling

The Commissioner’s authority to rule costs is based on Section 162b of the Israel Law of Patents 1967:

The Commissioner has the authority to rule reasonable costs and to decide which of the parties will pay the costs and how they will be paid.

rulingAs ruled by the Supreme Court in Bagatz 9891/05 Tnuva vs. The Authority for Imports pd. 60(1) 600, 615 30 June 2005, the costs award considers circumstances, the amount of work performed, particularly in submissions and preparing evidence, complexity, stage reached, equitable behavior of the parties, and so on.

Costs are not intended to be refund of all expenses laid out, so that, for the winning party, it would be as if they never laid out money. Sometimes a party does NOT receive full costs: See IL 13433 Smithkline Beecham Corporation (SKB) vs. Teva Pharmaceuticals ltd., 30 May 2005.

Furthermore, to the extent that costs appear extraordinary, the amount of details required to substantiate the claim for costs that is required is more. See Opposition to IL 153109 Unipharm vs. Mercke Sharp & Dohme Corp., 29 March 2011.

The Commissioner does not consider that Unipharm’s submission was sufficiently detailed with regards to attorney fees incurred. Submitting invoices that do not detail the work done is insufficient. There is no detail regarding the attorney’s hourly rate and the number of hours worked. The Commissioner also does not consider the costs requested were reasonable when considering the specific case.

calculationHowever, the winning party is entitled to recoup costs. Since the applied for costs were insufficiently detailed, the Commissioner estimated costs, basing himself on the Tnuva and other rulings.

 

After doing his calculations and estimations, etc., the Commissioner ruled 200,000 Shekels + VAT as appropriate costs for the legal work undertaken.

 

Dr Tomer’s Costs

Citing the appropriate precedents, including Opposition IL 173788 Unipharm vs. Lundbeck, IL 166621 Unipharm vs. Neurocrine Biosciences Inc., etc., the Commissioner ruled that Unipharm’s CEO’s time could not be charged to the Applicant.

Refunding costs of Opposer for Application to have Evidence Struck from Record

It has been established that one does not charge a party for costs that opposing party incurred in interim procedures that were rejected – See Opposition to IL 141762 Unipharm vs. Novartis, 21 June 2013.

Conclusion

As to the previous issued ruling of 25 April 2014 that Novartis should pay 5000 Shekels costs to Unipharm for failed attempt to have opposition thrown out, the Commissioner considered this sum as outstanding, but that there was no need to readdress the issues.

The Commissioner thus ruled that Novartis should pay 2000 Shekels legal fees and 200,000 Shekels + VAT costs to Unipharm.

Opposition by Unipharm against ILL 195087 to Novartis, Ruling re Costs by Asa Kling 7 May 2017


Extension of Israel Patent Extended

June 8, 2017

BSSIsrael Patent No. 164987 to Bristol-Myers  Squibb is titled ” PROLINE DERIVATIVES AND  PHARMACEUTICAL COMPOSITIONS CONTAINING THE SAME”. On 9 January 2017, the relevant Examiner calculated that the patent was entitled to a 479 day extension. The patentee has appealed this calculation.

The patentee’s representative submitted his calculation and a hearing was held on 28 May 2017. Following the hearing, the Deputy Commissioner accepted the arguments and ruled that the extension should be 679 days.

SunvepraThe patent term extension is for the active ingredient of Sunvepra which is asunaprevir. The Application for a patent term extension was under section 64(o) of the Israel Patent Law. The Applicant notes that the drug is not marketed in any of the relevant States as per section 64(a) and so the period of protection should be calculated on the basis of Section 64(i)(b) as follows:

If the registration is only requested in Israel, the patent term extension will be in force for a period equivalent to that from when the request for registration was submitted to when approval occurred, so long as the Applicant acted equitably and with appropriate efficiency.

The disagreement between the Examiner and the Applicant concerns the proper interpretation of the term approval as used to indicate the period of the extension. There is consensus that this period starts with the submission for regulatory approval, but the end of this period is disputed. The Examiner considered that this period terminates with the registration of the medication in the register of medical formulations as per section 47a of the Pharmaceutical Ordinance 1981. The patentee contends that the date should be the date on which approval for sale of the drug occurs.

In accordance with Section 64a of the Law, the term approval is defined in section (b)1 of the Law in the same manner as in section 54a as follows:

In this Section, ‘approval’ is authorization or permission or other document needed to sell the product.

The Legislative was aware of the difference between the term רישוי meaning approval and רישום meaning registration. The term רישום (registration) is used in sections 64(d)2 and 64(d)3. The meaning of the term רישום (registration) is registration in the Register of Medical Formulations under section 47a of the the Pharmaceutical Ordinance.

The term רישוי (approval) used by the legislative for calculating patent term extensions is wider and includes all approvals needed to market the product. Where the product is a medical device there is no disagreement that after registration in the register there are other approvals necessary before a product can be marketed to the public. These approvals are listed in regulations 14-18 of the Regulations or Pharmacists (formulations) 1986 and we are concerned with the first of these in regulation 14:

No one may market a formulation for the first time in Israel unless it is from a batch that receives marketing approval from the manager.

The Examiner himself was aware that to marketing approval was required in addition to registration as is clear from his letter of 6 September 2016. There is no doubt that this marketing approval was only signed on 4 September 2016 as is clear from the appendix to the Affidavit of Ms Talya Ben-David, Brostol-Myer Squibb’s regulatory manager in Israel. So although the formulation was registered from 18 February 2016, it was only approved for marketing some 200 days later.

The Applicant’s understanding of the Law is ‘technical’. As is clear from the Appeal to the Jerusalem District Court 223/09 Lundbeck vs. Unipharm (25 May 2009) regarding understanding terminology of the Law:

One can therefore say that the substantive scope of considerations that the Commissioner may use when determining the period of protection is different from that when considering a patent application. Deciding whether an invention is patentable is by nature discretionary in that it requires ascertaining novelty, inventiveness, utility, etc. In contradistinction, when determining the appropriate patent term extension, the Commissioner is limited to considering the formal requirements of the Law, without consideration of the way the invention works or the Applicant’s investment in inventing, developing and registering. This is what the legislative body decided was the appropriate way to balance the conflicting interests when providing patent term extensions. The burden on the Commissioner is technical and is designed to be objective.

It so happens that this technical calculation also corresponds to the purpose of the Law which is to compensate the Applicant for regulatory delays whilst enabling competitors to test and develop their generic equivalents without infringing the patent.

Section 54a of the Law, legislated as an amendment to the 1967 Law, cancels the de facto extension of products requiring approval (particularly drugs), by enabling generic competitors to prepare for and obtain regulatory approval whilst the patent is in force and to launch their products immediately on the patent lapsing. In compensation for this change, the patentees were allowed to obtain patent term extensions. The extension is not for the whole patent but only prevents manufacturing and sale of the medical formulation that includes the material covered by the patent (Section 64(h)d of the Law). Just as the de facto extension for regulatory approval is needed to market the drugs, so the compensation for the drug developers, by enabling patent term extensions, is tied to approvals. The patent term extension is needed to compensate the patentees for “the period that has passed until the patentee receives approval from the Israel Office”. See also the words of explanation for the fourth amendment to the Patent Law (use and patent term extension) 1997, Draft Law 2664 page 146 onwards.

Although the Israel Law is not identical to the arrangements reached in the US and in Europe, it seems that there also, the patent term extension is calculated from the time that all approvals are received. See for example Section 14 of the Medical REGULATION (EC) No 469/2009 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL   concerning the supplementary protection certificate for medicinal products of 6 May 2009:

“The certificate shall take effect at the end of the lawful term of the basic patent for a period equal to the period which elapsed between the date on which the application for a basic patent was lodged and the date of the first authorisation to place the product on the market in the Community, reduced by a period of five years.”

See also 35 USC 156 which deals with determining the “regulatory review period for the approved product” and also the words of explanation for the 13th amendment of the Patent Law 2012:

“The approval of the extension period for patents for medical formulations and medical devices of the type given in the US (Patent Term Extensions PTE) under Section 156 of Volume 35 of the US Code. This approval extends the US patent for delays in obtaining regulatory approval for marketing medical formulations and medical devices that occur after the patent issues, and half of the period for clinical trials for the same medical formulations and medical devices, with deductions from this period for tardiness by the patentee in obtaining such regulatory approval. The period of the Approval given in the US under the US Law cannot exceed five years and cannot extend beyond fourteen years from the first marketing approval of that medical formulation or medical device.

However, reference to foreign laws is not required since the term ‘approval’ in Section 64(i)2 is clear and unambiguous:.

The proceeding for considering the request for a patent term extension

extension

Section 64(o)b provides a very short period for examining requests for patent term extensions. This short period obligates fast examination and does not allow back and forth exchanges between the Examiner and the Applicant.

The examination of the patent term extension request commenced on 6 September 2016. In an Office Action the Examiner explained that the Application did not accord with Section 64(d)(3) of the Law since at the time of the Application, there was no regulatory approval in Israel, so he considered that the registration did not allow the formulation to be legally marketed.

The Applicant challenged this ruling before the Commissioner but this before this was substantively considered, an Affidavit was submitted that showed that marketing approval was given on 4 September 2016 and so the Commissioner ordered the request to be examined.

On 8 January 2017 the Examiner informed the Applicant that the Commissioner was willing to give a 783 day extension, and gave him a month to relate to this. The method of calculation was not detailed.

calculationThe following day, on 9 January 2017, the Applicant requested details of this calculation and established telephone contact with the Examiner. The contents of the conversation were not documented but the Applicant’s representative explained the main points discussed. [why the Examiner wasn’t interviewed is not discussed]. In the discussion, it was noted that an error had occurred in calculating the extension period which did not conform with either the Applicant’s or the Examiner’s interpretation of the Law. The Examiner considered that the extension period should be from when regulatory approval was requested until registration of the product. Consequently, that day, 9 January 2017, the Examiner issued a letter correcting the 783 days to 479 days, commencing on 27 October 2014, when regulatory approval was sought, and ending on 18 February 2016 when registration occurred. Due to an error, the Applicant was not given a month to appeal this decision. Instead, it was published in the January 2017 patent journal. Thus on 31 January 2017, a notice that an extension would be given under Section 64(e)c of the Law, despite the Applicant appealing the decision on 22 January 2017. It is emphasized that Section 64(e)c of the Law allows the Commissioner to publish the announcement within 60 days, thereby allowing the Applicant to appeal the examiner’s decision prior to it publishing, which is his right under section 161 of the Law.

There is no doubt that the publication is an error that should be corrected under Section 170 of the Law. The error is twofold: Firstly, it should not have published before the Applicants appeal was heard. Secondly, the publication did not accord with Section 64(i)b of the Law, as clarified in this ruling.

Therefore, a new announcement will publish in the June 2017 journal to the effect that the patent term extension is 679 days. Under section 170(c) the public may oppose this correction.

Ruling by Deputy Commissioner Bracha regarding Patent Term Extension to IL 164987.

COMMENT

I found this ruling convincing and concur that it seems to fit with the intent of the Law and not just with its literal wording. However, the corrected calculation may be opposed both substantively based on alternative interpretations and also due to third parties relying on the shortened term. We await further developments.