New Delhi: The Madras high court has ruled that the patent appeal on Glivec will not be heard before S. Chandrasekharan, who is the technical member in the appellate body.

Swiss drug maker Novartis AG had objected to his appointment as the technical member on the Intellectual Property Appellate Board as he was controller general of the Indian Patent Office in January 2006— when the Glivec patent application was originally turned down.

The court on Tuesday accepted a formula proposed by the government, under which the patent appeal will be heard by a two-member bench comprising the chairman and vice-chairman, said a Novartis release.

Patent appeal: Novartis’ leukaemia drug Glivec. The Madras high court has agreed that a two-member bench will hear the case.

The appeals are normally heard before a three-member bench which has a technical member—S. Chandrasekharan in this case —besides the other two officials.

The decision has come as a reprieve for the drug maker that has been fighting a stiff legal battle in India to patent its its top selling cancer drug, Glivec. “We expect the opportunity to have our case heard by an impartial board," said Novartis, adding that the life-saving medicine has already been patented in nearly 40 countries.

In August, the high court had dismissed Basel, Switzerland-based drug maker’s lawsuit to overturn a crucial provision in the Indian patent law that bars tweaked versions of an existing drug, from getting patented. The court had said that it couldn’t judge the compliance of an Indian law to an international agreement— Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights—and that this should be taken up before WTO.

Bajaj Auto holds talks with workers’ union

Pune: Two-wheeler manufacturer Bajaj Auto Ltd on Tuesday had its first round of talks with representatives of the Vishwa Kalyan Sanghatana, the workers union which was recently accorded the recognized union status at the unit replacing another union that had the backing of the Shiv Sena.

Although the talks remained inconclusive, it was significant since it was the first time the two parties entered into a dialogue after the company allowed the workers to enter its premises last week, almost two months after it shut down production at its Akurdi plant in Pune.

Sanghatana president Dilip Pawar said the union is pressing the two-wheeler manufacturer to sign a new wage agreement in place of the one which lapsed sometime back.

But Bajaj Auto vice-president C.P. Tripathi said the company would not accept the union’s demand since production has been shut down at the plant. Sudha Menon