In cybersquatting lawsuit, Adamis says rival Kaléo co-opted its Symjepi trademark

lawsuit and book
Adamis filed a lawsuit against Kaléo for "cybersquatting," or purchasing web domains similar to its competitors' brand name, and directing traffic to its own page. (Getty/eccolo74)

Here's one way to fend off new competition—albeit a potentially illegal one.

One day after Adamis won FDA approval for its epinephrine autoinjector Symjepi, rival drugmaker Kaléo bought up similar website names and redirected web traffic to its own Auvi-Q page, a new lawsuit claims. 

The cybersquatting allegations are just the latest news from Kaléo, which made plenty of headlines when it first rolled out its Auvi-Q injector at a $4,500-per-pack price. The privately held drugmaker launched the product as Mylan's EpiPen scandal still raged.

Adamis, meanwhile, was advancing its own Symjepi injection and finally won approval in June 2017. It inked a distribution and commercialization agreement with Novartis’ Sandoz unit the next month.

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But according to the lawsuit, Kaléo quickly fought back online. One day after Symjepi's FDA nod, Kaléo bought several similar domain names and redirected web traffic to its own Auvi-Q website, the suit claims. And Kaléo continued those redirects from June 2017 to February 2019, the suit says.

RELATED: Can a $4,500 epinephrine injector challenge Mylan's scandal-plagued EpiPen? 

In the lawsuit, Adamis argues that it has built “substantial good will and recognition in the industry” through the “expenditure of substantial time, money and effort.” Kaléo, for its part, faced criticism for pricing its EpiPen alternative at $4,500 for a two-pack, the lawsuit says.

Kaléo's internet shenanigans sowed confusion in the marketplace, Adamis alleges. Kaléo “registered, trafficked in, and used the infringing domain names willfully and with bad faith intent to profit” from Adamis’ trademark. The company is asking for an injunction, damages and more.

RELATED: Novartis and Adamis' EpiPen challenger launches at double-digit discount 

A Kaléo representative didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a note to clients on Monday, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote that he’s “not sure about the merits of the case,” but that Adamis is pushing for a jury trial to take “advantage of Kaléo's price gouging reputation.” 

Kaléo and Adamis both bolstered efforts to market their epinephrine injectors in the wake of Mylan’s pricing firestorm on EpiPen. But when Kaléo launched its own version, Auvi-Q, the company priced the drug even higher than Mylan’s drug. Over the years, Mylan’s drug had grown in price to more than $600 for a two-pack. Sandoz and Adamis launched their version at $250 for a two-pack. 

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