BULLETIN: Supreme Court rules on Teva v Pfizer

The Supreme Court released its unanimous judgment on Teva v Pfizer, 2012 SCC 60 on November 8, creating a very strong precedent for registering patents and the type of disclosure that is necessary. At issue in the decision was Pfizer’s patent for Viagra, its sildenafil-based drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. Due to expire in 2014, its patent prevents other companies from producing their own generic versions at significantly lower prices.

The parties had asked the Court to revise the Canadian position on sufficiency in patent applications. Teva had requested that the Court revise the standard on disclosing what elements and/or compounds make an invention operational. Pfizer had asked the Court to state that there were no special disclosure requirements “for inventions whose utility turns on sound prediction.”

The Court held that, without full disclosure, a patent holder cannot be held to benefit from exclusive property rights. Pfizer’s recent legal woes have been reflected in its business operations, and it has recently laid off eleven percent of its workforce in Canada. Teva, as one of the world’s largest manufacturers of generic pharmaceuticals, stands to benefit the most from this decision, notwithstanding the fact that its counsel spun the ruling as “a landmark decision that will guide Canadian patent law.”

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