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More than a few Texas residents might be familiar with medications such as Humalog (an insulin drug) and Cialis (an erectile dysfunction drug). These are the top two drugs made by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co. Its third largest seller, Alimta (a lung cancer drug), recently jumped one of three patent law hurdles.

The company went to court, claiming that the generic version of Alimta created by Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. violated its patent. The generic medication itself is not necessarily the problem. It is the process by which the chemotherapy treatment is administered to patients. After a patient is pretreated, Alimta is administered along with specific vitamins to help reduce the toxicity of pemetrexed (the main compound).

Teva attempted to convince the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that it was not responsible for how and when doctors administered the generic version to patients. The court did not agree and upheld Eli Lilly's patent. However, that is not the end of story. The patent is currently under review by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and that agency's review is not expected to be complete until June. Lastly, that determination could be appealed to the Federal Circuit in Washington.

Defending a patent worth over $1.7 billion in sales in just the first nine months of 2016 makes sense to most inventors. Even if a the financial stakes are not quite as high, any Texas inventor who believes a patent is being infringed upon has the right to pursue legal remedies. Inventors who go through the process of obtaining a patent are typically willing to defend their rights under patent law, if necessary, just as this pharmaceutical company is doing.

Source: Bloomberg, "Lilly Jumps After Lung Cancer Drug Patent Upheld", Susan Decker, Jan. 12, 2017

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