Viagra free-for-all: Viagra patent deemed impotent by Supreme Court of Canada

In a ground breaking 7-0 unanimous decision “Teva Canada Ltd. v. Pfizer Canada Inc., 2012 SCC 60″ today, Supreme Court of Canada has declared Pfizer’s Viagra patent void in Canada with serious sales/financial implications. Quoting Justice LeBel (emphasis added),

Patent 2,163,446 is void.

The patent application did not satisfy the disclosure requirements set out in the Patent Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P‑4 (“Act”).  The patent system is based on a “bargain”: the inventor is granted exclusive rights in a new and useful invention for a limited period in exchange for disclosure of the invention so that society can benefit from this knowledge.  Sufficiency of disclosure lies at the very heart of the patent system, so adequate disclosure in the specification is a precondition for the granting of a patent.

According to Globe & Mail, “Pfizer Canada made about $80-million last year from sales of Viagra.” Company doesn’t have to apply for patents and disclose the secrets of their inventions. Like Coke just keeps its formula as a trade secret. But if a company wants to get patents, the disclosure requirements are no joking matter and can mean billions as in this case.

Lets be clear on one thing, the declaration of Pfizer’s Viagra patent void doesn’t mean you get Viagra free as some men wish to! It does mean the patent protection afforded Pfizer exclusive right is now gone, and Canadian users of Viagra can expect cheaper generic version of Viagra type drugs to be available soon. In fact, according to CBC News,

The unanimous decision opens the door for Teva to introduce a generic version of Viagra. By the afternoon on Thursday, Teva had already moved to do just that, posting a message on its website, announcing the creation of Novo-Sildenafil and noting the product is available via prescription.

P.S. I am not a lawyer in Canada or U.S. so you should check with expert first. My understanding is that under the U.S. patent and trademark system, the “disclosure requirement” is better know as “2165 The Best Mode Requirement (linked to USPTO)” which I relied heavily in a 2006 patent review I did on an entrepreneur’s patent application within an episode of CBC award-winning hit TV show Dragons’ Den!

NOTE: This article is cross-posted by me at examiner.com

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