Undeterred by PTO setbacks, Bass slaps new challenges on Acorda patents

Kyle Bass

Hedge-fund manager Kyle Bass may have hit some recent speed bumps in his quest to challenge pharma patents through a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office review system. But he's not giving up.

After a review board nixed his challenge to two Acorda Therapeutics ($ACOR) patents on Ampyra last week--throwing a wrench into his plans for short-selling "low quality" pharma patents--it handed him another setback on Wednesday, tossing out a challenge to Biogen's multiple sclerosis pill Tecfidera, The Wall Street Journal reports. But Bass, not to be deterred, refiled the two Ampyra challenges on Wednesday with more documentation, and he filed two new challenges against the drug's other IP shields, too.

"I've spent years of my life working on this and my arguments are as good as can be," Bass told the WSJ on Thursday. "I think I can win if they'll just hear the cases on the merits."

He's planning to file a motion to have the patent board reconsider his Tecfidera challenge, too, he told the paper, though he acknowledged that the chances of acceptance aren't great.

Since early this year, Bass has been using the inter partes review system (IPR) to wage war on patents from companies such as Celgene ($CELG), Shire ($SHPG), Biogen ($BIIB) and Acorda that he thinks aren't up to snuff, touting his plans to bring down drug prices and help the public. But he's also been shorting stocks of the companies he's targeting, profiting when his moves trigger share drops--and pharma hasn't been too pleased with his actions.

Bass and his partners want "to line their own pockets at the expense of public pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders," Celgene recently said in legal papers seen by Reuters.

But the last two PTO decisions have shown that Bass' job won't be easy, and pharma has history on its side, too, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote in a note to clients this week.

The IPR system is "not much of an 'IP death squad,'" he wrote; the stats so far "suggest 15% of patents challenged via IPR are invalidated," and that's "reasonably similar to patent challenges via the court system."

The sample size is still small, though, he cautioned; 26 more already-instituted cases are up for final decisions over the course of the next year, and that'll provide a much larger data set.

In the meantime, though, Acorda plans to be ready for whatever Bass brings its way. "We're reviewing the petitions and will oppose the requests to institute the IPRs," an Acorda spokesman told the Journal. "If they are allowed to proceed, we will defend our patents vigorously."

- read the WSJ story (sub. req.)

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