Poly Medicure wins long patent battle against German pharma giant B Braun (Economic Times)
Poly Medicure, an Indian medical devices firm with annual sales of just over Rs 320 crore, has won a five-year long patent battle with Rs 40,000 crore German medical devices and pharma giant B Braun as the European Patent Office (EPO) revoked two of the latter’s patents covering features of intravenous (IV) safety catheters.
B Braun appealed against these decisions at the boards of appeals, a redressal forum within the EPO structure, but the appeals have been turned down by the boards and the patents of B Braun revoked, according to orders passed last month and earlier in June, reviewed by ET.
Confirming the development, Rishi Baid, director, Poly Medicure Ltd, told ET, “The concerned two patents have been revoked by the European Patent Office, as per our information and it is likely to have a hugepositive impact on our business in Europe.”
This could help Poly Medicure gain a firmer foothold in the $250-million European safety catheter market which uses up to over 300 million IV catheters yearly, according to industry estimates.
This could also bolster its case in some of the other European jurisdictions where it is defending patent infringement suits from the German giant.
The Indian company, or its distributors, have been sued by B Braun in many countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, Malaysia the Netherlands, Australia and even India for alleged patent violations.
While global patent battles between Indian players and large multinationals are fairly common in the pharmaceutical sector, such cases have been rare in the medical devices space.
But B Braun hasn’t given up on the patent battle. Admitting that a couple of its patents have been recently revoked by the EPO after years of opposition and appeal, a company spokesperson told ET that they are still confident of emerging victorious in the pending patent suit case in a regional court of Germany and some of the other countries.
“Polymed’s Australian distributor has had the same experience as their European distributors, to our knowledge, finding no repeat customers for their product,” said the B Braun spokesperson, adding that he doesn’t believe that Poly Medicure will gain a lot of business in Europe. He added that another patent dispute related to this product is yet to be decided in Europe and B Braun is already pursuing another legal recourse in Europe and Australia.
Hailing Poly Medicure’s victory as ‘significant’ and ‘encouraging’, its Indian peers say this may prompt few other players to consider taking on global giants in their home turfs, but most Indian medical device makers will still not be able to afford such patent wrangles in regulated markets.
“Unlike pharma players, medical device makers in India are still small and the prohibitive costs involved in fighting such patent battles in developed markets will deter them from taking this route, particularly when they are aware of the muscle and deep pockets of the rival global giants,” said promoter of a competitor Indian medical device firm.
Disclosure: I am a shareholder