Patent disputes ended over eye vitamins

Rochester, NY—Bausch & Lomb has resolved a pair of patent disputes involving its Ocuvite PreserVision eye vitamins.

Rochester, NY-Bausch & Lomb has resolved a pair of patent disputes involving its Ocuvite PreserVision eye vitamins.

The company, which holds worldwide patent rights to the formula developed by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), settled a lawsuit against Alcon Laboratories Inc. and dismissed a second against Inverness Medical Innovations Inc.

Bausch & Lomb had developed the formula for the vitamins with the National Eye Institute and supplied the tablets for the 10-year AREDS, the results of which were released in October 2001.

The companies announced March 18 that they settled the dispute by creating a cross-licensing deal in which Alcon will sell its product and grant Bausch & Lomb global rights under "one or more" Alcon patents. The terms, which were confidential, were approved by the U.S. Public Health Service, which had granted Bausch & Lomb the license.

"The product has gained significant market share and copycat products appeared thereafter," said Margaret Graham, a Bausch & Lomb spokeswoman.

Doug MacHatton, Alcon's vice president, investor relations and strategic corporate communications, was unavailable for comment.

In the Inverness dispute, Bausch & Lomb alleged in a March 8 lawsuit that Waltham, MA-based Inverness and its subsidiary IVC Industries Inc. manufacture and distribute vitamins that infringe its patent for Ocuvite PreserVision. However, 3 days later, Bausch & Lomb dismissed the lawsuit, saying the companies had provided "a written representation" that neither had infringed the Bausch & Lomb patent.

"This matter was able to be clarified quickly as a result of Inverness' thorough internal review and prompt, direct communication," Bausch & Lomb said in its press release.

"Inverness provided information to Bausch & Lomb after the lawsuit was filed and, on the basis of that information, the action was withdrawn," Graham added.

Doug Guarino, director of corporate communications for Inverness, did not return a phone call seeking comment.