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The European Commission limits the legitimate exercise of intellectual property rights and thus weakens the competitiveness of European industry09/07/2014
Suresnes, 9 July 2014 - Servier received today the European Commission’s decision censuring (1) settlement agreements putting an end to patent disputes with five manufacturers of generics in relation to perindopril, a Servier medicine, and (2) the acquisition of a technology from a European small and medium sized enterprise.
The decision imposes a fine of € 331 million on Servier and a total amount of € 96.7 million on the manufacturers of competing generics.
Lucy Vincent, Servier’s spokesperson, emphasizes that “patients have not been deprived of perindopril at any time. Moreover, generic entry has not been delayed. Servier has acted in a transparent and legitimate way to defend its patents, which are essential if we are to continue the development of innovative medicines for the benefit of patients.”
Since the beginning of this investigation and the statement of objections received in July 2012, Servier has fully cooperated with the European Commission. However, Servier strongly disagrees with the unprecedented theory developed in the decision.
As Servier proved to the Commission, the settlement agreements between Servier and the generics manufacturers have not in any way delayed the entry of generics to the market, which became available as soon as the patent was revoked. These agreements were a legitimate means to put an end to long, costly, and uncertain disputes. The patent under investigation had been validated by the European Patent Office.
“The Commission’s decision sets a regrettable precedent for industries that rely on intellectual property. By condemning patent settlement agreements responding to legitimate commercial concerns, the Commission makes patent disputes more risky and more costly.”
Furthermore, the European Commission’s allegation of Servier’s abuse of dominant position is based on a market definition limiting the relevant market to the single molecule of perindopril, whereas treatments for hypertension include at least a dozen competing products within the therapeutic class to which perindopril belongs (ACE Inhibitors).
“Medically or economically, limiting the relevant market to a single molecule of such a crowded therapeutic class is absurd.”
Moreover, the European Commission considers that the acquisition of a technology from a small and medium sized enterprise by Servier was abusive, whereas the European Commission has not been able to show any concrete actual negative effects on competition.
Servier has developed a unique model of governance, in the form of a foundation, with a long-term vision of investment. Servier does not distribute dividends and, in 2013, invested more than 27% of its turnover in R&D.
“The European Commission’s decision against our intellectual property rights sends a very bad signal to companies of all sizes that make the choice to innovate in Europe. This kind of sanction jeopardizes the pharmaceutical companies’ commitment to research, and this is thus detrimental to patients.”
Considering the novelty of the unfounded theory put forward, Servier will file an appeal before the European Union Court of Justice.