Eli Lilly loses bid to cancel Teva migraine-drug patents before Emgality trial

REUTERS/Amir Cohen
  • Teva said Lilly migraine drug infringes its patents on rival drug
  • Court finds Lilly failed to prove that patents lacked valid written description

(Reuters) - A Boston federal judge on Monday rejected Eli Lilly & Co's request to invalidate three Teva Pharmaceuticals International GmbH patents in a long-running legal battle over the companies' competing migraine medications.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs clears the way for a trial scheduled to begin Oct. 18 against Lilly over its drug Emgality.

Teva sued Lilly in 2018, claiming Emgality infringes patents for its competing drug Ajovy. The patents cover methods of using antibodies that treat migraines by inhibiting peptides that cause them.

A Teva spokesperson said Tuesday that the company looks forward to the trial and will "continue to defend our IP vigorously."

A spokesperson for Lilly declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.

Teva's lawsuit originally accused Lilly of infringing nine Ajovy patents. A U.S. Patent and Trademark Office tribunal later invalidated six of the patents.

The same day Teva sued, Burroughs dismissed two related Teva lawsuits seeking to block Emgality from coming onto the market. Teva also filed a separate, ongoing patent lawsuit against Lilly in Massachusetts over Emgality last year.

Lilly earned over $577 million from Emgality sales worldwide last year, while Teva made $313 million from Ajovy.

Burroughs ruled Monday on several pre-trial motions by both companies. She denied Lilly's request to find Teva's patents invalid for lacking a sufficient written description, and said "numerous factual disputes" made the question more appropriate for trial.

Burroughs also rejected Lilly's request to rule before trial that any infringement was not willful but agreed with Lilly that Emgality did not infringe some parts of one of the patents.

The court also denied Teva's request to knock out Lilly's argument that Teva improperly received the patents by failing to disclose relevant earlier publications to the Patent and Trademark Office and through other alleged misconduct.

The case is Teva Pharmaceuticals International GmbH v. Eli Lilly & Co, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, No. 1:18-cv-12029.

For Teva: Neel Chatterjee and Natasha Daughtrey of Goodwin Procter

For Lilly: William Raich, Charles Lipsey and Emily Gabranski of Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner

(NOTE: This story has been updated with a response from Eli Lilly.)

Read more:

U.S. judge dismisses Teva lawsuits against Lilly on migraine drug

Fed Circ. upholds some Teva migraine drug patents, invalidates others

U.S. court rules for Teva in migraine patent dispute with Eli Lilly

Teva accuses Lilly in U.S. court of infringing migraine drug patents

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com