Pfizer's Intellectual Property Rights Battles in China for Viagra
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SIPO Invalidates Viagra's Patent
In May, 2004, Pfizer announced that it was partnering with the Chinese government to enforce its patent on Viagra that had been granted in 2001. But on July 7, 2004, the SIPO revoked the patent. The alliance cited six alleged grounds for invalidity. Pfizer won on three and lost on one and two others remained undecided. The review board said that Pfizer was on the wrong side of the patent law as it had failed to accurately explain the uses of the Viagra's key ingredient, Sildenafil (Refer to Exhibit V for a brief note on China's patent law)...
SIPO Ruling Leads to International Outcry
Due to the huge market potential for ED drugs and the dispute between local and foreign firms, the Viagra patent litigation issue generated a lot of interest around the world. The decision of SIPO to invalidate Pfizer's patent for Viagra led to an international outcry. They viewed the adverse ruling as an indication that China was unwilling to comply with the guidelines set by its membership in the WTO. Some accused it of regressing back to the past when IPRs were violated by Chinese firms while the Chinese government looked the other way...
China's Huge Market can't be Ignored
Analysts did not read too much into Pfizer and other MNC pharmaceutical companies' assertion that the ruling against Pfizer would lead to decreased investment in China. China continues to be an attractive market for multinational pharmaceutical companies. Alan Adcock, senior associate Rouse & Co. International said that the Chinese pharmaceutical market was "too attractive"for the foreign players to ignore...
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