|Take-in-Slide--Courtesy of i-c Innovations|
Eli Lilly ($LLY) has been making its fair share of courtroom appearances lately, battling claims over withdrawal symptoms linked to its blockbuster antidepressant in the U.S. and defending a patent for a lung cancer drug in Europe. In its latest legal saga, the drugmaker is going head-to-head with a woman who claims that Lilly stole her idea for a tool that helps patients' remember to take their meds.
Plaintiff Lisa Duer filed a complaint alleging that Lilly at first tried to license her patented "Take-n-Slide" adherence gadget. But after the negotiations fell through, Lilly and its supplier, Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, simply copied Duer's idea instead, the suit claims.
The product has an "inherently distinctive combination of design, size, shape and color scheme," the suit alleges, showing that Lilly and BDA intentionally stepped on Duer's patents and trademarks.
Take-n-Slide has a rectangular shape with days of the week running vertically down its left side, and corresponding slides running vertically down the right side. When a patient takes a pill on a given day, he or she can move the slide from left to right, changing the day's label from green to red.
The drama dates back to 2010, when Duer and her distributor, Anatomed, kicked off discussions with Lilly and BDA about licensing the product. Lilly said it wanted Duer to sell her product to BDA directly because BDA was the company's supplier. Then, BDA could turn around and sell the tool to Lilly.
BDA sent Anatomed a supplier agreement, but Duer took issue with some of the terms. Anatomed told BDA about Duer's reservations, and in summer 2011, Lilly and BDA "abruptly ended discussions" to buy the product, according to the lawsuit.
But in 2013, Duer realized that Lilly and BDA had moved ahead with the product anyway, the complaint alleges. The companies copied Take-n-Slide and its package insert sheet, removed Duer's patent number from the insert and distributed the items to customers, the suit alleges. Duer only found out that Lilly and BDA were manufacturing and marketing the tool after a customer accidentally contacted her about the product, thinking it was hers.
Now, Duer is seeking an injunction to stop Lilly and BDA from using the tool, as well as damages. The case names Anatomed as a co-plaintiff, giving the company at least half of whatever damages might be awarded.
But Lilly is staying mum on the patent infringement suit, telling FiercePharma in an email that "(a)s a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending litigation," a company spokeswoman said.
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