Abbott Labs v. ANDRX (Fed. Cir. 2007).
The district court granted a preliminary injunction to stop Andrx from selling extended release clarithomycin as a generic version of Biaxin XL. Andrx appealed.
Four factors for preliminary relief: (1) Likelihood of success on the merits; (2) irreparable harm from failing to issue a PI; (3) balance hardships of the parties; and (4) public interest.
Collateral Estoppel: Oddly, the same district court granted Abbott’s PI motion against two other defendants because the patents looked invalid. On appeal Andrx argued that, as in Blonder-Tongue, “Abbott cannot assert patents against one party which have been found to be invalid or unenforceable against another party.”
The CAFC found that collateral estoppel does not apply here because the earlier discussion of validity and enforceability had not been fully and finally litigated in the other cases. (Applying Seventh Circuit law).
Vitiation: Andrx also argued that the PI should not issue because its generic does not infringe — either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents. Under DOE analysis, the Andrx product included a pharmaceutically acceptable glyceryl monostearate rather than the claimed “pharmaceutically acceptable polymer.” Andrx argued that a GST equivalent would vitiate the polymer requirement. The CAFC, however, found that the two could be equivalent — falling in-line with the common notion that adjectives are subject to vitiation more often than nouns.
Notes: One thing that is unclear is why the court did not discuss the merits of the invalidity factor of the PI decision rather than focusing solely on the collateral estoppel issue.