Mumbai: Novartis AG on Monday objected to the composition of the patent cell of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (Ipab), resulting in that body adjourning its hearing over a key patent application for the Swiss drug maker’s blood cancer drug, Glivec.
Novartis is objecting to the presence of S. Chandrashekharan as technical member on Ipab because he was the controller general of patents when the company’s original application for Glivec was turned down as not being unique enough. The Union government, which appointed Chandrashekharan, is expected to file a reply to Novartis’ objection on 2 July.
Chandrashekharan “was responsible for the original decision on the Glivec patent in 2006 and was acting as a party in the recent court case reviewing the decision of the Indian patent office to reject our Glivec patent filing”, said a Novartis spokesperson in an email response. Chandrashekharan declined to comment.
In an earlier conversation with Mint, Chandrashekharan had denied any conflict of interest in hearing the Novartis case as the patent was rejected at the Chennai patent office by the assistant controller of patents and designs.
“If this logic were to apply, the technical member for patents will never be able to hear any patent appeal as all the cases would have been decided when he was the patent controller general,” says Pratibha Singh, a Delhi-based patent attorney. Singh is not connected to the case.
Glivec is one of the breakthrough cancer drugs of Novartis and enjoys patent rights in nearly 40 countries, including China, Russia and Taiwan. Novartis’ latest objection has opened a third legal front in an ongoing dispute.
The company is also challenging the validity of Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patent Act, which deals with frivolous patenting, in the Madras high court. That section was cited in turning down the Glivec application and that is what is before IAPB now.