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Indian Court Refers Novartis Plea for Patent on Anti-cancer Drug to a Separate Board

The Madras High Court in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has decided to transfer the Novartis AG’s appeal against the rejection of its patent// plea for the anti-cancer drug Glivec to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board.

The decision could be considered a temporary setback to the pharma multinational.

For it cannot hope for any early decision on the patent plea. The Appellate Board’s ruling too can be challenged it in the courts.

To add to Novartis’ miseries the technical member of the new appellate court will be none other than Chandrasekaran, former Controller General of the Indian Patent Office, who had rejected its application for Glivec patent. A spokesperson of the Novartis has already expressed concern over Chandrasekaran’s appointment.

The Madras High Court has already reserved its orders on the main petition by the Novartis challenging the constitutional validity of the Section 3(d) of the Patents (Amendment) Act.

Novartis contends the amendment contravenes the trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and also Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which ensures equality before the law.

The section 3(d) of India’s 2005 Patent Amendment Act interprets the trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) treaty. It prohibits patents for a new form of a known substance unless that new form has considerably better efficacy.

Novartis’s Glivec was a new form of an older molecule that it first patented in 1993. The enhancement in efficacy over the old form was not large enough to warrant a patent, the Patent Controller of India held in January last year.

The company then approached Madras High Court as the Controller’s office is situated in Chennai. It wanted rejection of patent application set aside. That appeal goes before the appellate board set up by the government of India for the purpose.

But orders on the Novartis’ challenge
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