* Jury finds Protonix patent infringed by Teva
* Some legal issues in case to be decided by judge
NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - A New Jersey jury handed a victory to Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) on Friday, ruling that the patent on its Protonix acid reflux drug is valid and infringed by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA), which has been selling a generic version of the drug since 2007, the companies said.
The jury in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey rejected allegations by Teva and India’s Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries (SUN.BO) that the patent on the widely used drug was obvious and should be declared invalid, Pfizer said.
The original patent on Protonix, known chemically as pantoprazole, is held by Swiss drugmaker Nycomed [NYCMD.UL] and was licensed to Wyeth, which is now owned by Pfizer.
Nycomed and Wyeth filed their patent infringement lawsuit against Teva and Sun in May 2004.
“We are pleased with the jury’s findings,” Pfizer said in a statement. “The jury held that the patent was not invalid, rejecting allegations by several generic companies that the patent was obvious.”
Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, and Teva, the world’s biggest maker of generic medicines, said there were still legal issues to be decided by the judge presiding over the case.
“A decision by the District Court judge independent of today’s jury verdict would be sufficient to invalidate the patent,” Israel-based Teva said in a statement.
A final decision could be appealed, Pfizer said.
“If we are successful at the end of this process, we will be seeking the full measure of our damages,” Pfizer spokesman Christopher Loder said.
He declined to discuss the extent of damages Pfizer might seek. However, in similar cases when a product’s patent has been found to be infringed the company holding the patent may seek triple damages on lost sales and reimbursement of legal fees.
Pfizer shares closed up 43 cents, or 2.6 percent, at $16.91 on the New York Stock Exchange. Teva shares closed up 51 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $61.54 on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot)