F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd vs Cipla Ltd., Mumbai Central
Over the years India has seen many patent disputes between Foreign Multinational Pharmaceutical companies and Indian generic drug companies. But the suit between Roche and Cipla has surely set the standards when it comes to a patent infringement suit.
In this case, two plaintiffs, namely, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. and OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc., filed the suit for permanent injunction restraining infringement of patent, rendition of accounts, damages and delivery against Cipla Ltd. Mumbai. Indian Generic manufacturer Cipla won this landmark case in the Delhi High Court. The case is the first Patent Litigation in India post India’s 2005 Product Patent Regime which included public interest and pricing issues in addition to India’s Section 3d that prevents evergreening. The case was followed by Pharma Giants worldwide.
Roche sued Cipla in 2008 before Delhi High Court claiming that Cipla’s generic product Erlocip violates former’s Indian ‘774 patent claiming “Erlotinib Hydrocloride”. The trial Judge rejected Roche’s appeal to grant interim injunction restraining Cipla from selling generic version of Tarceva on the grounds of public interest and the fact that there was an ongoing patent revocation proceedings against ‘774 patent. Cipla’s generic version costs about 1/3rd of Roche’s patented drug. Roche’s subsequent appeal to Division Bench also failed when not only did the bench uphold the findings of Trial Judge but also imposed costs on Roche for suppression of material patent information about Roche’s later filed application in India (IN/PCT/2002/00507/DEL). This was the Patent Application which was actually on Polymorph Form B of Erlotinib Hydrocloride but was rejected in 2008 following the opposition filed by Cipla primarily on Section 3d. Cipla argued that Tarceva corresponds to Polymorphic Form B (which is not a product of ‘774 patent but a ‘507 rejected application) and that it is Form B which is more stable and suitable for solid oral dosage form than the compound disclosed in ‘774 patent comprising a mixture of Forms A and B. Roche’s subsequent appeal before the Supreme Court (SC) challenging the order passed by the division bench got dismissed due to the ongoing trial at the Delhi High Court.