New Delhi: Swiss drug maker Novartis AG has filed a petition in the Madras high court for the appointment of a new technical member in a government patents appeal panel to hear its case on cancer drug Glivec. The date for the hearing will be decided once the court admits the petition.
The company is contesting the appointment of a former patent controller on the panel of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (Ipab). The board is hearing its appeal on the rejection of patent for Glivec. Novartis had raised the same objection before the Ipab as well, but its plea was rejected on 20 July. Glivec was denied a patent in January last year by the Chennai Patent Office (under the former patent controller) on the grounds that it wasn’t unique enough.
Subsequently, the drug company filed an appeal against this decision and matter came before the Ipab—a government-appointed body that examines all appeals relating to intellectual property issues.
Confirming the filing of the writ petition on Wednesday, Novartis said in a release that it disagreed with this appointment. The company said it “expected the opportunity to explain our case clearly to an objective board”.
Novartis’ objection arises as it will have to present its case before the current technical member, S. Chandrasekharan, who was the controller general of the Indian Patent Office in 2006, when the patent was turned down.
Also, he had filed an affidavit in that capacity before the Madras high court on the Glivec patent litigation.
These reasons have led Novartis to demand another technical member to hear the case as it fears a bias on the part of Chandrasekharan.
Chandrasekharan “cannot act as an impartial member of the appellate board,” the company’s statement said.
Citing another recent decision in a separate case as a precedent, the Novartis release stated that the Delhi high court had held that Chandrasekaran couldn’t be a member of the Ipab since he had dealt with the matter under appeal by a company, Magotteaux International, in his earlier capacity as patent controller.
However, companies and patient groups opposing the patent, deny this argument citing “doctrine of necessity” to retain the technical member. This implies that a suitable replacement isn’t available.
Further, they say Chandrasekharan has never personally heard out the Glivec patent case as the patent was rejected by the assistant patent controller in Chennai.