Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lovastatin Decision Affirmed on the Facts

Apotex Inc v Merck & Co Inc / lovastatin 2011 FCA 363, Gauthier JA: Evans, Stratas JJA aff’g 2010 FC 1265 Snider J

In a decision delivered last December, that has yet to be released on the FCA website, Gauthier J, writing for the court in what I believe is her first patent decision since being appointed to the FCA, has affirmed Snider J’s lovastatin decision in an appeal that essentially asked the FCA to reweigh the evidence. Leave to appeal to the SCC has been sought, but I would astonished if it were granted.

Legally, there are only two points of passing interest. First, Gauthier J’s opinion provides a brief but thorough discussion of the law related to the standard of appellate review. While this will not be a leading case in that it does not change the law, it will be a very useful reference decision on this issue.

Secondly, Snider J had interpreted s 55.1 (s 39(2) under the old Act), which provides that “In an action for infringement of a patent granted for a process for obtaining a new product, any product that is the same as the new product shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been produced by the patented process,” as placing the persuasive burden of proving infringement on the patentee [FC 168- 184]. The FCA refused to endorse this interpretation, on the basis that the burden of proof was not determinative of the appeal, and Snider J did not have the benefit of full argument on the issue [9-10]. In my view, it is a wholly salutary principle that holdings of law are entitled to little weight if they are not essential to the case and are made without the benefit of full argument. Now, if only the SCC would take that principle to heart, and quit its bad habit of making new law in obiter on unargued points.

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