Court to Amgen: Patent Law Beats State Law

By George Khoury, Esq. on December 15, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to the so-called patent dance, state law cannot be invoked to force a party to be a dance partner. At least, that's how the recent Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision in Amgen v. Sandoz is being interpreted.

If that case name sounds familiar, that's because these two have been battling it out for some time and have been making headlines in pharma and patent circles. Most notably, the pair of litigants recently had SCOTUS opine on their case. However, the High Court merely struck down the injunction granted by the district court and remanded the matter as to the state law claims of unfair competition stemming from Sandoz's alleged strategic refusal to engage in the "patent dance."

Incomplete Applications Not Unfair Competition

Among Amgen's claims in the newest of the never-ending appeals this case created is that Sandoz deliberately failed to provide complete information on their patent application and manufacturing information. This failure is, in extraordinarily summary fashion, the gist of Amgen's unfair competition claim. Essentially, that by failing to provide complete information it was gaining an advantage in the patent dance and thus violating California law.

However, as Sandoz argued, and the circuit court agreed, the federal government, in creating a comprehensive regulatory framework for resolving patent disputes did intend to preempt state enforcement of patent related actions or disputes. The circuit court concluded that both conflict and field preemption applied in this matter barring the court from ruling in Amgen's favor. Notably, the United States Solicitor General filed an amicus brief supporting Sandoz's position that the relief sought by Amgen under state law was in fact preempted.

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