Bausch & Lomb and CIBA Vision have reached a final settlement agreement in patent infringement lawsuits over silicone hydrogel contact lens materials in federal district courts in Georgia, Delaware and New York, as well as suits in Germany, Ireland and Australia. Specific terms of the agreement are confidential.

The companies say the decision is in the best interests of patients. Whats important is that we move forward and utilize the NIGHT & DAY silicone hydrogel technology to bring new and innovative eye care solutions to consumers worldwide, says Andrea Saia, president of CIBA Visions global lens business.

In various legal actions filed, CIBA Vision alleged that Bausch & Lomb infringed on four patents, which B&L said were invalid. Bausch & Lomb, meanwhile, claimed that CIBA Visions NIGHT & DAY contact lens material infringed on a B&L patent. Bausch & Lomb also claimed that CIBA Vision infringed on B&Ls patented method of cast molding contact lenses.

A 2002 ruling said that PureVision lenses infringed on CIBA Visions patent for Focus NIGHT & DAY lenses, and issued an injunction that prohibited B&L from manufacturing and selling PureVision in the United States. Since that ruling, B&L has been making and shipping PureVision to markets outside of the U.S. from the companys manufacturing facility in Waterford, Ireland.

Under this settlement agreement, the rights to this material technology will be cross-licensed. B&L may resume sale and manufacture of its PureVision lenses in the U.S. on April 27, 2005, when the Harvey patent expires.

B&L will pay CIBA Vision a royalty on the U.S. sales of PureVision contact lenses until 2014. Part of the settlement royalties will go to the Australian group that helped develop silicone hydrogel technology, the Cooperative Research Centre for Eye Research and Technology, now known as Vision CRC. The International Centre for Eyecare Education, a core partner of CRC, will use the funding to help eliminate preventable blindness and impaired vision due to uncorrected refractive error in disadvantaged areas.

We look forward to once again providing our PureVision contact lenses to practitioners and patients in the United States, says Angela Panzarella, B&L corporate vice president of global vision care. This agreement allows us to focus our efforts on expanding our strong market position and continue development of new advances in silicone hydrogel material.

Vol. No: 141:08Issue: 8/15/04