Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi-Aventis SA announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a lower court ruling validating the patent behind the blockbuster blood-thinner Plavix, reported by the Associated Press. A U.S. District Court judge had ruled in 2007 that the Canadian company Apotex Inc. failed to prove during a three-week trial that the patent protecting Plavix from competitors was invalid. The U.S. patent on Plavix, Bristol''s top-selling drug, will be maintained until November 2011, Bristol and Sanofi-Aventis said in a released statement. New York-based Bristol and France''s Sanofi-Aventis had agreed in 2006 to pay Apotex at least $40 million to keep its version of the blood thinner off the market until 2011, to settle the patent challenge. But the deal soured when state attorneys general refused to sign off. That agreement then fell under a federal criminal investigation that led to an FBI raid on Bristol''s offices. Bristol later pleaded guilty to counts of making false statements to the Federal Trade Commission regarding the botched settlement and paid a $1 million fine to resolve a Justice Department probe. Plavix rang up worldwide sales of $7.3 billion last year. Bristol and Sanofi-Aventis said they want damages from Apotex "in reparation of harm caused by that company''s marketing and sale of an infringing generic version" of Plavix in 2006.