Senju Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. et al v. Lupin Limited et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER granting in part and denying in part 105 MOTION for Judgment on the Pleadings Lupin's Rule 12(c) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings that the Claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,333,045 Are Invalid and Not Infringed. Signed by Judge Sue L. Robinson on 12/7/2012. (nmfn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
SENJU PHARMACEUTICAL CO.,
LTO., KYORIN PHARMACEUTICAL
CO., LTO., AND ALLERGAN, INC.,
LUPIN LIMITED AND LUPIN
SENJU PHARMACEUTICAL CO.,
LTO., KYORIN PHARMACEUTICAL
CO., LTO., AND ALLERGAN, INC.,
HI-TECH PHARMACAL CO., INC.,
Civ. No. 11-271-SLR (Consol.)
At Wilmington this 1th day of December, 2012, having considered defendants
Lupin Limited and Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s (collectively, "Lupin") Rule 12(c) motion
for judgment on the pleadings and the papers submitted therewith;
IT IS ORDERED that said motion (0.1. 105) is granted in part and denied in part,
1. Background. This patent infringement litigation was initiated on March 31,
2011 by Senju Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. ("Senju") , Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
("Kyorin") , and Allergan Inc. ("AIIergan") (collectively, "plaintiffs"). (D.I. 1) Senju and
Kyorin are corporations organized under the laws of Japan and having principal places
of business in Japan. (D.I. 33
2-3) Allergan is a Delaware corporation with its
principal place of business in California. (ld.
2. Plaintiffs filed a complaint against Lupin alleging infringement of U.S. Patent
Nos. 6,333,045 ("the '045 patent") and 5,880,283 ("the '283 patent") by Lupin's
Abbreviated New Drug Application ("ANOA") No. 202-653. 1 (0.1. 1) The '045 patent is
directed to aqueous liquid pharmaceutical compositions comprising gatifloxacin and
disodium edetate, as well as various methods utilizing these compositions. (ld. at ex.
3. On May 23, 2011, plaintiffs amended their complaint, adding that Senju and
Kyorin had filed a request for reexamination of claims 1-3, 6, 8 and 9 of the '045 patent.
47-48) Lupin filed an answer and counterclaim on June 6, 2011. (D. I. 11)
Lupin admitted to jurisdiction in its answer. (ld. at ~16-18) Plaintiffs filed an answer to
the counterclaim on June 27, 2011. (D.I. 16)
4. On November 21, 2011, plaintiffs filed two second amended complaints. The
Lupin filed a stipulation on January 26, 2012, entered on February 7, 2012,
consolidating the instant case with Civ. Nos. 11-926-SLR and 11-1 059-SLR for all
purposes. (0.1. 47) The '283 patent is directed to a sesquihydrate compound and
various processes for its production. (0.1. 1 at ex. B) Subsequently, plaintiffs and Lupin
filed a stipulation on May 21, 2012 to dismiss all claims and counterclaims related to the
'283 patent, which was entered on May 22, 2012. (0.1. 84) Plaintiffs and Hi-Tech
Pharmacal Co., Inc. ("Hi-Tech") also filed a stipulation on August 27, 2012, entered on
August 28, 2012, to dismiss all claims and counterclaims related to the '283 patent.
first amended the original complaint alleging infringement of the '045 patent as
reexamined. (D.I. 33) The next alleged infringement of the '045 patent as reexamined
by Lupin's ANDA No. 202-709. (D.I. 35) Lupin filed answers to both second amended
complaints and counterclaimed to each on December 21, 2011. (D.I. 37; D.l. 38)
Plaintiffs filed answers to the counterclaims on January 11, 2012. (D.I. 41; D.l. 42)
Currently before the court is Lupin's motion for judgment on the pleadings, filed October
8, 2012. (D.I. 105)
5. Standard. When deciding a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the
pleadings, a district court must view the facts and inferences to be drawn from the
pleadings in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Green v. Fund Asset
Mgmt., L.P., 245 F.3d 214, 220 (3d Cir. 2001); Janney Montgomery Scott, Inc. v.
Shepard Niles, Inc., 11 F.3d 399, 406 (3d Cir. 1993). The motion can be granted only if
no relief could be afforded under any set of facts that could be provided. Turbe v. Gov't
of the Virgin Islands, 938 F.2d 427, 428 (3d Cir. 1991); see also Southmark Prime Plus,
L.P. v. Falzone, 776 F. Supp. 888, 891 (D. Del. 1991); Cardio-Medical Associates, Ltd.
v. Crozer-Chester Medical Ctr., 536 F. Supp. 1065, 1072 (E.D. Pa. 1982) ("If a
complaint contains even the most basic of allegations that, when read with great
liberality, could justify plaintiffs claim for relief, motions for judgment on the pleadings
should be denied."). However, the court need not adopt conclusory allegations or
statements of law. In re General Motors Class EStock Buyout Sec. Litig., 694 F. Supp.
1119, 1125 (D. Del. 1988). Judgment on the pleadings will only be granted if it is
clearly established that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Jablonski v. Pan Am. World Airways,
Inc., 863 F.2d 289, 290 (3d Cir. 1988).
6. In Blonder-Tongue Laboratories, Inc. v. University of Illinois Foundation, 402
U.S. 313 (1971 ), the Supreme Court held that, in the patent context, defensive
collateral estoppel may be used if the accused infringer shows: "(1) that a patent was
found invalid in a prior case that had proceeded through final judgment and in which all
procedural opportunities were available to the patentee; (2) that the issues litigated
were identical; and (3) that the party against whom estoppel is applied had a full and
fair opportunity to litigate." Abbott Labs. v. Andrx Pharma., Inc., 473 F.3d 1196, 1203
(Fed. Cir. 2007). Regional Circuit law controls the determination of whether prior
findings invoke collateral estoppel pursuant to these guidelines. /d. at 1202-03.
7. In this regard, the Third Circuit has held that collateral estoppel applies when
"(1) the identical issue was previously adjudicated; (2) the issue was actually litigated;
(3) the previous determination was necessary to the decision; and (4) the party being
precluded from relitigating the issue was fully represented in the prior action." Jean
Alexander Cosmetics, Inc. v. L'Oreal USA, Inc., 458 F.3d 244, 249 (3d Cir. 2006)
(citations omitted). The Third Circuit has also considered whether the party being
precluded had "a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in question in the prior
litigation" and, in addition, whether the issue was determined by final judgment. /d.
8. A judgment of invalidity in one patent action operates to bar relitigation of the
validity of the same patent in a subsequent action, by collateral estoppel. See Blonder-
Toungue, 402 U.S. at 349-50. Further, unadjudicated patent claims may be barred by
collateral estoppel if "'the issue of invalidity common to each action is substantially
identical.' It is the issues litigated, not the specific claims around which the issues were
framed, that is determinative." Westwood Chern., Inc. v. United States, 525 F.2d 1367,
1372 (1975). Collateral estoppel may also operate to bar relitigation of common issues
in actions involving different but related patents. Mycogen Plant Sci., Inc. v. Monsanto
Co., 252 F.3d 1306, 1310 (Fed. Cir. 2001).
9. Discussion. Lupin alleges that narrower reexamined claims 6 and 12-16 of
the '045 patent are invalid for obviousness and that plaintiffs should be collaterally
estopped from relitigating these claims based on this court's findings in Senju
Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. v. Apotex Inc., 717 F. Supp. 2d. 404, 419-27 (D. Del. 2010).
(D. I. 106 at 1-2) Plaintiffs argue that the reexamined claims have not been previously
litigated and decided, because this court did not consider or determine "the validity of a
claim limited to 0.01 w/v%" disodium edetate ("EDTA"). /d. at 2-3. 2
10. In Senju, the court construed the EDTA concentration limitation to be from
0.001 to 0.2 w/v%. Senju, 717 F. Supp. 2d. at 419 & n.26, 421-23. The court held that
the original claim 6 was obvious in light of the prior art as it "would lead one of ordinary
skill in the art to reasonably expect that, consistent with the court's construction of claim
6, the step of adding disodium edetate (even at a concentration as low as 0.1 w/v%) to
Plaintiffs' argument that this court's decision in Senju Pharm. Co., Ltd. v.
Apotex Inc.,_ F. Supp. 2d _ , 2012 WL 4062325 (D. Del. Sept. 17, 2012) precludes
the application of collateral estoppel is incorrect. (D. I. 119 at 1-2) This court stated that
claim preclusion applied to that case, not that issue preclusion could never apply.
Senju Ph arm. Co., Ltd. v. Apotex Inc., 2012 WL 4062325 at *4.
a solution of gatifloxacin eye drops would demonstrate an increased concentration of
gatifloxacin in the aqueous humor."3 /d. at 423.
11. Defendants argued that the original claim 6 was obvious as "one of ordinary
skill would have expected disodium edetate to enhance the corneal permeability of
gatifloxacin such that it would result in an increased concentration of gatifloxacin in the
aqueous humor" based on a 1985 publication by Grass et al. ("the Grass reference"). 4
/d. at 421. The Grass reference "sought to determine the effect of EDTA on the
permeability of organic and inorganic compounds with respect to the corneal epithelia"
and suggested "that EDTA concentrations lower than 0.5 w/v% would be effective in
view of the increased corneal permeability of the 0.5w/v% EDTA formulation." /d. at
411, 421. Plaintiffs' expert testified that the Grass reference had no bearing on the
obviousness of the '045 patent because the compounds disclosed were different than
gatifloxacin. /d. at 422. However, this court concluded that the Grass reference
attributed the improved corneal permeability on the ability of EDTA to transport a polar
compound across the epithelial layer of the cornea and gatifloxacin was a polar
compound with a topical ophthalmic application. /d.
12. The court held that "the validity of claim 6 does not hinge ... upon the
The Federal Circuit upheld the court's finding that claim 7 was invalid for
obviousness. See Senju Pharmaceutical, Co., Ltd. v. Apotex, Inc., No. 2012-1179
(Fed. Cir. Oct. 5, 2012). The court's analysis of the obviousness of claim 7 is instructive
for the addition of EDTA to an aqueous solution, but does not address the validity of a
claim limited to 0.01 w/v% EDTA or whether such an addition might increase corneal
Grass George, M., et al., Effects of Calcium Chelating Agents on Corneal
Permeability, 77 INVESTIGATIVE OPHTHALMOLOGY & VISUAL SCI. 3 (1985).
existence of a prior art teaching that EDTA affects the corneal permeability of
gatifloxacin specifically, or even quinolones generally." /d. Further, "within the finite
range of excipients disclosed to be suitable in combination with quinolones, it would be
obvious to try one such excipient characterized by the prior art as increasing the corneal
permeability of polar compounds." /d. at 423. Plaintiffs now argue that reexamined
claim 6, with its narrower limitations, is not rendered obvious by the above analysis. 5
(D.I. 119 at 9)
13. Conclusion. Although in the '045 patent the concentration of EDTA is
limited to from 0.001 to 0.2 w/v%, this court did not specifically make findings for a
claim with a limitation of 0.01 w/v% EDTA. Senju, 717 F. Supp. 2d. at 419 & n.26, 42123. Moreover, plaintiffs did not fully litigate a claim with a limitation of 0.01 w/v% EDTA
and Lupin has not shown sufficient evidence that this limitation does not lend
patentable significance to reexamined claims 6 and 12-16. 6 Therefore, Lupin's motion
for judgment on the pleadings is denied as to reexamined claims 6 and 12-16 and
granted as to claim 7 of the '045 patent.
A narrower claim is not rendered invalid by the invalidity of a broader claim.
"Each claim of a patent (whether in independent, dependent, or multiple dependent
form) shall be presumed valid independently of the validity of other claims; dependent
or multiple dependent claims shall be presumed valid even though dependent upon an
invalid claim." 35 U.S.C. §282.
Although Lupin's failure to demonstrate that the reexamined claims are
substantially identical to the original claim 6 prevents it from prevailing on collateral
estoppel grounds, Lupin may later succeed in showing that the reexamined claims are
invalid for obviousness.
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