» 2011 » April

Over $1 Billion Gone in Big Pharma Patent Lawsuit

Four years of ups and downs in the patent infringement dispute between Centocor, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, and Abbott Laboratories recently took a huge turn in Abbott’s favor. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Centocor’s patent claims were invalid and overturned a $1.67 billion verdict against Abbott Laboratories.

The dispute arises because of Abbott’s Humira drug, which produces pharmaceutical antibodies to treat arthritis and other immune conditions. Back in 1991, Centocor submitted a patent application for its drug that contained both a mouse and chimeric antibody. Simultaneously, Abbott pushed to create a fully-human antibody.

Centocor proceeded with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office submitting many continuation-in-part applications, including one in 1994 detailing the chimeric antibody with a mouse variable region. In 1996, Abbott’s patent entailed a “high affinity, neutralizing, A2 specific, fully-human antibody.” By 2002, Abbott was given the green light to market Humira. The patent for Centocor’s distinct chimeric antibody was still being processed in 2002.

The appeals court found that the 1994 CIP did not have a sufficient description about human antibodies or human variable regions to claim patent infringement. “A mere wish or plan for obtaining the claimed invention is not an adequate written description,” the appeal decision stated. Thus Centocor did not have constructive possession of the same patent or key parts of the Abbott patent.

Big pharma is big business. Abbott’s Humira is its best moneymaker with $6.55 billion in worldwide sales last year; Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade stacks up with $4.61 billion. Patent, copyright, and trademark disputes can compromise a business’ profits, marketing, and public relations. Expert legal counsel to ensure a business’ hard work stays in good hands is critical. To protect and help a business flourish, an experienced attorney is recommended early on to ensure patent documents and business proceedings are done properly with respect to the innovation and effort involved.

In Texas, Austin patent attorney and Austin business attorney Gregory D. Jordan has served diverse clients in intellectual property disputes. With an engineering degree and background as well as legal experience in this area, the Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan represents both intellectual property rights owners and alleged infringers.

Gregory D. Jordan is an Austin business attorney, Austin employment lawyer, and Austin business litigation lawyer. To learn more, visit Theaustintriallawyer.com.

Nurses Win in Hospital Whistleblower Case

Austin whistleblower attorney and business lawyer, Gregory D. Jordan, comments on a recent case involving Winkler County Memorial Hospital staff.

Austin, Texas – A medical doctor who was the subject of a whistleblower complaint recently had an arrest warrant issued for him and was placed on probation by the Texas Medical Board.

In 2009, registered nurses Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle filed an anonymous letter with the Texas Medical Board about their co-worker Dr. Rolando Arafiles, Jr., MD, in regards to what they perceived as patient care issues at Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit, Texas. When the doctor learned about the letter, he had the county sheriff determine who had written it. The nurses were then charged with a third-degree felony alleging misuse of official information. The hospital also fired the nurses. The charge against one of the nurses was dismissed and the other nurse was acquitted at trial. The nurses brought a whistleblower suit against the doctor, the hospital and others which was settled last fall with the agreement that each nurse would be paid $375,000.

The tables have turned and now Dr. Arafiles, Winkler County Sheriff Robert Roberts, Jr., his friend that helped find the nurses who filed the letter, as well as the Winkler County hospital administrator could face criminal charges related to the prosecution and firing of the nurses. The Texas Medical Board has now placed Dr. Arafiles on probation for four years, fined him $5,000, and ordered him to enroll in a remedial medical education program.

Dr. Arafiles was no stranger to the Texas Medical Board as he previously had restrictions placed on his license. Last year, the board charged him with failure to maintain adequate records, overbilling, poor medical judgment, non-therapeutic prescribing, witness intimidation, and other alleged violations.

“This case shows that ultimately nurses who complain about inadequacies in patient care can be vindicated,” said Gregory D. Jordan, Austin whistleblower lawyer. “It is not always easy to blow the whistle on corruption or unsafe practices, but it is the right thing to do. Having an experienced whistleblower attorney in your corner can help protect you.”

An experienced whistleblower lawyer should not only have extensive knowledge in this area, but should also be willing to aggressively prosecute each case and counsel individuals on their rights, options, just compensation, and pertinent laws such as the Texas Whistleblower Act. “A whistleblower attorney must not be afraid to take on the biggest governmental entities or corporations. It’s part of our job,” notes Jordan.

To learn more visit, http://www.theaustintriallawyer.com.

Supreme Court Discrimination Case Highlights the Perils of Manager Bias Against Military Duties

The recent Supreme Court decision in Staub v. Proctor Hospital highlights the liability an employer can face from discrimination claims. The court ruling shows that even when a manager or boss ultimately decides to fire an employee, if a subordinate supervisor influences or discriminates against an employee that leads to an action against the employee overall, the employer may be liable.

Vincent Staub filed a grievance after he was let go as an angiography technician at a Peoria, Ill. hospital as he felt he was let go because of his bosses “hostility toward his military obligations”.

Staub sued saying that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) forbids an employer from denying “employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment based on a person’s membership in or obligation to perform service in a uniformed service and provides that liability is established if the person’s membership is a motivating factor in the employer’s action.”

Both of Staub’s direct supervisors were found to be seeking to discharge him. Evidence was found and inferred that they were displeased by his U.S. Army Reserve duties that mandated he train full time two to three weeks a year and attend drill one weekend a month.

His direct supervisor scheduled extra hours without care to the Reserve requirements and ultimately designed a special “corrective action” that made him stay in his work area even when he was done with patients. When Staub left his boss a voicemail as asked when he was going to leave his desk and did not receive a phone call back, he was found to be in violation of the rule.

Even though he was fired by human resources, the court found that the actions of Staub’s two immediate supervisors plus their annoyance at his military duties supported his claims. Staub’s case has had numerous twists and turns as the first jury awarded him $58,000 in damages, then in a federal appeals court the decision was reversed. The Supreme Court upheld the jury verdict saying that his managers influenced human resources to make an incorrect firing decision.

With numerous military bases in Texas, employers and employees in this state should pay close attention to this case. Human resource and employment managers should make sure actions against employees are truly a result of rule violations, not personal biases. Employees who serve in the military should be aware of their protected rights.

Austin employment attorney and business litigation lawyer Gregory D. Jordan has more than 20 years of experience representing employers and employees with their employment matters. Jordan has a long, successful track record of tenaciously representing his client’s interests as an Austin discrimination attorney and Austin employment attorney.

Gregory D. Jordan is an Austin business attorney, Austin employment lawyer, and Austin business litigation lawyer. To learn more, visit Theaustintriallawyer.com.

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