In False Ad Dispute Between Inhaler Companies, Court Grants PI Enjoining Unsupportable Clinical Superiority Claims
In its recent decision granting a preliminary injunction in GlaxoSmithKline v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, No. 19-5321, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania enjoined a pharmaceutical company from making certain marketing claims of clinical superiority that the Court found did not match up with the study results purportedly supporting them. In doing so, the Court offered instructive guidance on the proof required to show falsity under the Lanham Act and on the showing necessary to justify preliminary injunctive relief.
Our parents and teachers taught us that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” But in the world of Lanham Act litigation, the opposite is often true. When defending a Lanham Act claim brought by a competitor, the doctrine of unclean hands—the lawyerly version of “But they did it too!”—can be a case-dispositive argument. Last month, the Ninth Circuit made it a bit easier to establish this defense, holding that a defendant arguing unclean hands need not prove that the plaintiff’s unclean conduct caused “actual harm.” See Certified Nutraceuticals, Inc. v. Avicenna Nutraceutical, LLC, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 22351 (9th Cir. July 27, 2020).