Another IP-related International Investment Arbitration Looming

By Gabriel M. Lentner

As reported by IAReporter, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer served a notice of dispute under the US-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty involving a patent dispute between Pfizer and Argentine generics producer Acromax.

Pfizer holds a patent, obtained in 1999 from the Institute of Intellectual Property of Ecuador, for “the preparation of sildenafil”. Sildenafil is a medication treating erectile dysfunction (better known under the brand name Viagra).

The dispute arises out of several court rulings involving the Argentine-owned pharmaceutical laboratory Acromax, which produced and marketed sildenafil, against which Pfizer pursued claims in defense of its intellectual property rights. Several court rulings dealt with this issue. In the latest ruling, the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court heard an appeal and issued a ruling upholding Acromax’s rights to seek damages against Pfizer.

What Pfizer is allegedly asking is an intervention similar to an international investment tribunal’s issuing of interim measures, such as in the case of Chevron v Ecuador II, which required Ecuador to stop domestic proceedings against the company in the cases related to the dispute.

Should the dispute be brought before an arbitral tribunal, it will be another interesting case dealing with IP-related issues in international investment law.

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