Bird & Bird successfully represents Gilead in Hungarian compulsory license matter

Bird & Bird’s Intellectual Property team has won an action before the Hungarian Constitutional Court for their client Gilead in its three years running dispute regarding a public health related compulsory license granted in Hungary.

In December 2020, the Hungarian Intellectual Property Office (HIPO) granted compulsory licenses for three patents concerning remdesivir, an active substance developed by Gilead - a pioneer and leader in antiviral drug development - without the patentee being heard. Gilead filed appeals but lower courts and the Hungarian supreme court believed that grant has happened in lawful proceedings. In September 2022, the patentee sought final recourse by filing complaints to the Hungarian Constitutional Court.

In its decision dated 10 October 2023 the Constitutional Court found that both the administrative law proceedings at the HIPO and the appeal stages at court violated the Fundamental law of Hungary. The Constitutional Court annulled all the decisions made in the case.

Gilead was represented by the following Bird & Bird lawyers: Partner Bálint Halász and Counsel Bettina Kövecses.

Partner Bálint Halász and Counsel Bettina Kövecses commented “The provisions on public health related compulsory licensing were introduced to Hungarian law in May 2020. This case is truly a landmark case as this was the first case of this kind. The ruling of the Constitutional Court clarified that a compulsory license can only be granted if a patentee was able to exercise their client rights, including the right to be heard and have access to files. Furthermore the patentee’s right to appeal cannot become a mere formality and the principle of equality of arms always must be ensured.

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