Canopy Growth files lawsuit against GW Pharma, arguing patent infringement

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Canopy Growth Corporation, one of the largest cannabis producers in Canada, has initiated a threatening lawsuit against a United Kingdom-headquartered drugs company called GW Pharmaceuticals

The U.S. federal court-filed suit alleges that GW has violated Canopy’s intellectual property; the British company is accused of knowingly overstepping its legal boundaries. GW is the world-famous company responsible for producing an FDA-approved seizure medication called Epidiolex. 

According to the lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday, December 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, the medicinal drugs producer is utilizing a Canopy-patented method to extract the non-psychotropic cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) the primary active ingredient contained in Epidiolex.  

Smiths Falls, Ontario-based Canopy purchased the intellectual property for U.S. Patent No. 10,870,632 in 2019, when it acquired Germany’s C3 Cannabinoid Compound Co. for more than $250 million.

The Canadian company claims that the patent encompasses an intricate carbon dioxide cannabinoid extraction technique. Interestingly, the cannabinoid extraction patent was issued to Canopy on the same day that the lawsuit was filed.

Canopy seeks damages for so-called patent infringement by GW Pharma

Not only is Canopy seeking damages as a means of achieving justice for GW Pharma’s purported patent infringement but also, the Canadian cannabis company is optimistic that it will be awarded enhanced damages.

Founded in 2013, Canopy claims that GW Pharma “has been monitoring the (patent) family for over fourteen years.” Furthermore, the company argues that the pharmaceutical giant was clued up regarding Epidiolex’s manufacturing strategy and how it violates Canopy’s intellectual property rights.

Canopy’s court filing went on to say that GW Pharma “declined a license” for a parent patent back in the year 2017.

This case is not about restricting patient access to Epidiolex. Rather, Canopy brings this action to put a stop to GW’s knowing and unauthorized use of Canopy’s intellectual property,” reads an excerpt from the court remonstrance.

In the United States, sales of GW Pharma’s CBD formulation accounted for 87 percent of the company’s total sales revenue for the quarter concluding on September 30. After being contacted by MJBiz Daily reporters, the British company claimed that it was aware of the suit.

“As a policy, we do not comment on any pending litigation except to say that based on our preliminary review of the complaint, we are confident in our position and will vigorously defend against this lawsuit,” stated GW Pharma. The company is famed for gaining regulatory approval that enables Epidiolex to be sold across various U.S. states that have enacted medical cannabis laws.

Canopy could bag exclusive rights to cannabinoid extraction process

In the event that GW Pharma is not successful in proving that Canopy’s patent maintains legal force, the plaintiffs could be celebrating exclusive rights to the highly sought-after extraction process; of which is relied on to produce CBD formulations for the medical market. 

Canopy’s victory would mean that any company who harnesses this method of CBD extraction could face legal action. However, Canopy will only be triumphant in the lawsuit if the company is able to prove that, aside from its patent, no other record exists of the technology being used for CBD extraction purposes.

In its defense, GW will have the opportunity to fight against Canopy’s claims by signaling the difference(s) between its technology and the technology pertaining to Canopy’s patent.