George Barker: I have a one-word response to that: Amen.
Groner: Litigation is not what you want?
Barker: Fortunately, Martek is not involved in any litigation. But in my former capacity as chief legal officer of a health care organization, we were involved in one piece of litigation with a physician, and it was an extremely draining, negative, and expensive experience. To avoid litigation, to my mind, is an absolute key. I do not think it does anybody any good.
Geoffrey Karny: I will take a slightly different perspective.
I would agree that litigation is a major problem with regard to cost, and even more importantly, as you are indicating, with regard to time and hassle and draining senior management time and focus. But in the biotech field I think there are times — and here I am speaking not from personal experience, luckily, but from having been in the field 20 years — that litigation makes sense. I think it is a cost-benefit judgment, for example, to enforce a patent.
If we are talking about a huge market, such as Amgen’s market for EPO [Erythropoietin], unfortunately, a couple of million dollars is well-spent to protect a $1-billion-a-year market. You have to make those judgments, and you have to go down that road.
I think some of the smaller biotech companies have been forced down that road, where it is essentially bet-the-farm or bet-the-company litigation. They have one product, and they have to protect it. Or they have one product, and somebody else thinks that it is infringing their patent.
Groner: Is there, in general, a problem that people might infringe patents, trample on your intellectual property almost knowingly, and then hope that you do not go after them because it is too hard to prove, or the expenses will be too high, or you are too small, or all of the above?
Do you see a sort of lack of respect for IP, or even a strategic decision to engage in very dicey behavior with respect to IP?
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