Germany’s Thuringian Court of Appeal issues Final Judgment on September 17, 2021 in favor of Samix/Medisca’s successful defense of its proprietary design and knowhow of its compounding systems against Gako
In March 2019, Medisca Pharmaceutique Inc. acquired Samix GmbH, a German manufacturer of compounding systems for use in pharmacies. Following such acquisition, Medisca supported Samix in its several legal disputes with Samix’ main competitor, the GAKO group comprised of inter alia GAKO Konietzko GmbH and GAKO International GmbH (collectively, “old Gako”), which have since become insolvent. In course of the insolvency proceedings, old GAKO’s business was acquired by Fagron February 2020, and is now continued by Fagron’s newly established subsidiary, GAKO Deutschland GmbH.
The core of the legal disputes concerned the ownership of IP and knowhow pertaining to the compounding systems and their design. Old GAKO asserted that it allegedly owned all knowhow and IP, while Samix (as successor to SMS Elap GmbH &Co KG) has always taken the position that all the knowhow and IP belonged to SMS even though they developed and manufactured the UNGUATOR compounding systems for old GAKO.
In May 2016, old GAKO instigated preliminary injunction proceedings against Samix claiming that, by continuing SMS’ business, Samix unfairly exploited knowhow belonging to GAKO and unfairly imitated the (old) design of the UNGUATOR mixing machines and jars. The alleged trade secret misappropriation was rejected at first instance (Landgericht Meiningen [HK O 19/16]) and also upon appeal (Thüringer Oberlandesgericht [2 U 532/16]), validating Samix’s position that old GAKO did not own the knowhow pertaining to the compounding systems. Only regarding the mixing machines, the Court of Appeal found an allegedly unfair imitation of the (old) design of the UNGUATOR mixing machines.
“Despite the lawsuits in which Samix was involved beginning in 2016, Medisca acquired the German-based manufacturer in order to secure supply chain of a product line that has become even more critical to compounding pharmacies worldwide,” said Panagiota Danopoulos, SVP Global Strategy & Innovation at Medisca. “We were confident that Samix and its employees were instrumental to the development of the electronic mortar and pestle for our customers globally . Aligned with Medisca’s strategic priority to build and defend our IP portfolio of key innovations and product investments, Medisca invested in Samix, and supported its business and legal position in such lawsuits”.
In March 2021, after old GAKO's insolvency, Samix successfully obtained a revocation of old GAKO’s preliminary injunction which was lifted by default judgment (Landgericht Meiningen [HK O 55/20]), thereby eliminating all restrictions with respect to distribution within Germany.
Old GAKO had also filed corresponding main action proceedings in October 2016 which were also based on the allegedly unfair product imitation and trade secret misappropriation. While old GAKO’s action was again partially granted in first instance regarding the allegedly unfair product imitation regarding the mixing machines and the mixing blades, the action was dismissed in view of all other accessories and, most notably, also with regard to the alleged trade secret misappropriation (Landgericht Meiningen [HK O 53/16]). Both, Samix and old GAKO, appealed the decision. Following a suspension due to old GAKO’s insolvency, the proceedings were resumed upon Samix’ request.
On September 9, 2021, the Court of Appeal granted Samix’ appeal while rejecting GAKO’s appeal by default judgment (Thüringer Oberlandesgericht [1 U 187/19]). The default judgment is final and binding and, consequently, GAKO’s claims were entirely rejected.
Samix considers such outcome of the main action proceedings as further validation by German courts that the knowhow created and developed by SMS was never acquired by old GAKO and that Samix always owned such knowhow.
“I am delighted to see that, after long and legally baseless lawsuits, the German courts have acknowledged that old Gako was never the rightful owner of Samix’s intellectual property and know-how!” continued Panagiota Danopoulos. “This is a pivotal moment for both Medisca and Samix as we reinforce our market position as industry leaders. Medisca will always take the necessary steps to protect its companies’ IP assets and rights ; and we will continue to support Samix as it continues to innovate and engineer for our clients globally, while also protecting its business and market position in Europe, North America and Australia.”
On April 22, 2021, in order to further protect all the investment made in developing its unique and proprietary knowhow and part of which knowhow was being used in the recent UNGUATOR devices sold by GAKO, Samix initiated court proceedings for trade secret misappropriation against old GAKO’s trustee which sold the insolvent old GAKO’s assets, the acquiring entity – GAKO Deutschland GmbH – and its managing directors, and the parent company, Fagron B.V. which Samix deems responsible for the acquisition.
Medisca is the leader in providing turnkey solutions to the pharmaceutical compounding industry and allied health care professionals worldwide. Committed to being a complete resource for prescribers, pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians engaged in personalized medicine, Medisca offers high quality products, industry-leading support, and first-class education through its partner LP3 Network. Founded in 1989, the company has locations in Canada, the United States and Australia, optimizing its service to the international market. For more information about Medisca, please visit www.medisca.com and follow us on Twitter at @medisca.
Samix is a leading manufacturer of Electronic Mortar & Pestle Mixers and Accessories for pharmaceutical compounding, cosmetic and scientific applications. Samix has been in business for over 10 years with Head Office & ISO 9001 Manufacturing plant located in Germany. As an innovation company, Samix is constantly pursuing new ideas to make their products more durable, more efficient, and more sustainable.
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