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India: Novartis fights on in Gleevec battle

Novartis has now appealed to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn the rejection of its controversial patent for Gleevec. Archana Shanker of Anand and Anand discusses the issues raised by the case

The speculation seemed to have come to an end on June 26 2009 when the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) gave its decision on the Novartis patent application directed to the beta crystalline version of imatinib mesylate (Gleevec), refusing the patent application. Novartis then filed a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court, which has issued notice to the respondents in the matter (Union of India and others) to decide the issue of maintainability.

The facts of the Novartis pre-grant oppositions are well known and this article is only an attempt to summarise the issues and the propositions of law that have been discussed in the judgment.

By way of background, Novartis AG, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, applied for patent number 1602/MAS/1998 claiming Swiss priority of July 18 1997 for an invention directed to a "beta crystalline form of imatinib mesylate". Cancer Patient Aid Association (CPAA), NATCO Pharma, CIPLA...

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