Case C-681/16, Pfizer Ireland – Specific Mechanism suppresses drug circulation

The internal market in pharmaceuticals can be partitioned by EU law. For example, the EU’s ‘Specific Mechanism’ will sometimes allow patent holders to stop the import of drugs into the ‘old’ Member States from the ‘new’ Member States, where prices are markedly lower. In this case, the drug company patent holder Pfizer wants to stop cheap imports of a psoriasis and arthritis drug from entering into Germany – and to that end, it has invoked the Specific Mechanism. In contrast, the importer contends that the Specific Mechanism does not apply; consequently, the EU principle of the free movement of goods should be allowed to operate. More

Case C-231/16, Merck KGaA – a murky issue of jurisdiction

When a company starts to sue a group of companies for infringing its trade mark in one Member State but then sees them infringing its mark in a second Member State, can the company commence proceedings in the second state too? Or is the court in the second Member State stopped from hearing the case by dint of the barring phrase, ‘the same cause of action’, which is in Article 109(1)(a) of the EU’s ‘trade mark’ Regulation 207/2009? More

Case C-642/16, Junek Europ-Vertrieb – can its sticky label stop the artificial partitioning of the internal market?

A German company sells a trademark medical dressing. Having exported some of its stock to Austria, it was surprised to see this subsequently turn up in a German pharmacy. Unsurprisingly, the German company wants to stop its German prices from being undercut. Consequently, it has invoked the EU’s ‘trade mark’ Regulation 207/2009. This is because Article 13(2) allows it to prohibit the further commercialisation of its goods ‘in particular’ where these have been changed or their quality impaired. In that context, the German company is objecting to the Austrian importer-exporter having applied a sticky label to the packaging. However, the legal question is: does Article 13(2) bite at all because the sticky label was only on an otherwise blank part of the outer-packaging so there has been no change to the goods or impairment of their quality. More

Case C-644/16, Synthon – resisting its impounded documents being inspected by a rival

How can you prove your case when the other party has in its possession the evidence you need? Perhaps you will need to instigate a search-and-seize raid on the other party? In this case, a Japanese pharmaceutical firm did just that. It organised Dutch court bailiffs to raid a Dutch firm suspected of making patent-infringing drugs. However, once the materials had been seized, the Japanese firm then asked the Dutch court for access to inspect them. This stumped the Dutch judges. What rules and standards should they apply to determine that request in light of the ‘evidence’ rule in Article 6 of the EU’s ‘enforcement’ Directive 2004/48? More

Case C-229/16, Ministério da Saúde – not just any old debtor but a public health debtor

There is a rule in the EU’s ‘late payment’ Directive 2000/35 that an invoice should be paid within 30 days. The question is: does the Directive apply to the Portuguese Ministry of Health in respect of the money it owes to the people who run Portugal’s pharmacies? More