United States: Post-Trial Findings – Not So Obvious

Upholding the validity of Bayer’s patent covering orally disintegrating tablet (ODT) formulations of vardenafil hydrochloride trihydrate, the US District Court for the District of Delaware rejected Defendant’s arguments that the claims were invalid as obvious. Notwithstanding, the court also held the secondary objective indicia points to non-obviousness. Bayer Pharmaceuticals AG et al. v. Watson Laboratories, Inc. et al., C.A. No. 12-cv-517, 2016 WL 1703281(D. Del. April 27, 2016)

At issue was Bayer’s US Patent No. 8,613,950, directed to particular orally disintegrating tablet formulations of vardenafil hydrochloride trihydrate. Specifically, Claim 9 is directed to a drug formulation wherein the sugar alcohols are a mixture of sorbitol and mannitol. Claim 11 is directed to a drug formulation wherein at least one sugar alcohol is sorbitol. Bayer received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market vardenafil hydrochloride orally disintegrating tablets (ODT), 10 milligrams, under the trade name Staxyn® for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Watson sent Bayer a Paragraph IV notice letter indicating it submitted an abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) seeking approval for 10 milligram vardenafil hydrochloride orally disintegrating tablets, prior to the expiration of the Orange Book-listed patents.

Bayer brought suit against Watson alleging infringement under the Hatch-Waxman Act. It filed two separates lawsuits—one on April 25, 2012, alleging infringement of the US Patent Nos. 6,362,178 and 7,696,206 and the second on March 21, 2014, for infringement of the ‘950 patent. Both actions were consolidated for trial. The parties stipulated to infringement of the asserted claims of the ‘178 and ‘206 patents, provided the claims are valid and enforceable. After a six-day bench trial, the court rejected Watson’s indefiniteness defense and ruled that the asserted claims of the ‘178 and ‘206 were not obvious. During post-trial briefing, the parties stipulated to infringement of the ‘950 patent, leaving the only remaining issue, Watson’s obviousness defense with respect to the ‘950 patent.

Watson argued that the asserted claims for the ‘950 patent are obvious for two reasons: (1) combining vardenafil hydrochloride trihydrate with the sugar alcohol excipients mannitol and sorbitol into a known ODT dosage form was taught by the prior art and would have be obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art (POSA); and (2) competitive pressure would have motivated a POSA to derive the claimed subject matter. Relying on Bayer’s expert, the court determined that absent hindsight, there was no motivation in the prior art to develop vardenafil ODT because of the rarity of ODT formulations. The court found significant that prior art references from 2004 listing ODTs on the market, and likely to come to market in the next few years, did not include any drugs for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

The court also considered whether a POSA would have been motivated to make an immediate-release ODT, rather than a delayed release ODT focusing on concerns related to increased bioavailability and taste. Bayer contended that immediate release ODT results in increased bioavailability of vardenafil, a major concern in older men. Additionally, a POSA would have expected vardenafil would have a bitter taste and therefore taught away from developing an ODT. Both of these concerns taught away from the claimed subject matter. Finally, the court determined that there was nothing in the prior art that would have given a POSA reason to use sorbitol and mannitol in an ODT, and that the tableting properties of mannitol and sorbitol mixtures are not obvious. The court relied on Bayer’s evidence that every ODT on the market in the relevant time frame contained only a single sugar alcohol—mannitol.

The court was further persuaded by several secondary considerations that weigh against a finding of obviousness, holding the bioavailability profile would have been unexpected by a POSA at the time. Specifically, a POSA making an ODT formulation of vardenfil would have wanted to formulate the ODT similar to Levitra® (another vardenfil formulation for the treatment of erectile dysfunction). Bayer states that a POSA would not have expected the bioavailability curves for Staxyn compared to Levitra to have an increase in bioavailability and no increase in the maximum concentration of vardenafil in the bloodstream. Staxyn’s results lead to a longer duration of action without added side effects. The court also agreed that Watson’s copying is evidence of non-obviousness. Typically, copying is not relevant in the ANDA context, however here, Bayer demonstrated that Watson did not simply copy in order to bring the Paragraph IV challenge, but desired the claimed subject matter. In support, Bayer proffered evidence that Watson considered design-arounds, but instead copied Bayer’s formulation.

Watson’s request for attorneys’ fees was denied having held the in favor of Bayer on the issue of obviousness.

Post-Trial Findings – Not So Obvious

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions