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WilmerHale Could Save $214M Due to a Deadline Provision in the Patent Bill

Posted Sep 8, 2011 7:08 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Critics are labeling a patent reform bill “The Dog Ate My Homework Act” for the protection it gives WilmerHale and its client the Medicines Company.

The bill would award patents to inventors who are “first to file” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, rather than those who are “first to invent,” the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) explained in an article earlier this week. The provision aiding WilmerHale clarifies the deadline for drug companies applying for patent extensions that protect them from generic competitors, the New York Times reports.

The patent office had ruled the Medicines Company missed a deadline for a patent extension for its anticoagulant Angiomax by a day or two. The law firm reached a $214 million malpractice settlement with the drug maker in February that would be paid only if Wilmer loses an appeal on the deadline question. A federal judge sided with Wilmer last year.

David Redlick, co-chairman of the life sciences practice at WilmerHale, tells the Times that the clarifying provision provides insurance in case the federal judge’s ruling is reversed. He insisted, however, that the change is needed because the existing law had unclear wording. He said the provision would benefit other pharmaceutical companies as well, including possibly Bayer and AstraZeneca.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., has proposed an amendment to delete the deadline provision from the bill. A Senate vote on the issue is scheduled for Thursday.

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