Friday, July 21, 2006

Dispute over inventorship in Erbitux patent

from AP: In a 2003 patent suit, Yeda Research and Development Co. of Israel sued ImClone, which has an exclusive license for the formula used in Erbitux to inhibit tumor cells, and Aventis, claiming three of its researchers should be named as the inventors. The current patent names Dr. Joseph Schlessinger, Chairman of Pharmacology at the Yale School of Medicine, as the inventor along with six others, three of whom even the defense has agreed do not belong on the patent.

In recent weeks, U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald has heard testimony from Sela, Schlessinger and other top cancer researchers. She has not yet ruled, and it is not clear when she might do so. But she was critical of many of the arguments presented by lawyers for ImClone and Aventis during closing statements Wednesday.

Thus, Erbitux is brought to us through the Bayh-Dole Act.

Of academics and patents:

Sela said he had never paid much attention to patents.

"I don't mind if I don't take a patent, unless it's stolen from me. Then I have to react," he said. "At the beginning, when I first saw it, I was in a state of shock. I mean, money is not important, but my name and my science, my honor demanded" that he be put on the patent.

Dr. Esther Aboud-Pirak, another of the three Yeda researchers, said she was 27 years old and disinterested in patents when she did the bulk of the research work on the method.

Under cross examination, Aboud-Pirak grew testy as she acknowledged that each of the three researchers could share in any money Yeda receives as a result of the litigation.


George Badenoch [Kenyon & Kenyon], a lawyer for ImClone, told the judge that Yeda did nothing to pursue the claim from 1988, when the researchers wrote a paper on the subject, to several years ago, after they learned a patent was issued in 2001.

"It's not proper now that we have got a blockbuster product for them to come in and say, `Hey, now we want to participate, now we got to be paid.'"

Schlessinger has been involved with other drugs:

"This is all a continuum of discoveries that started in the early 1980s," says Joseph Schlessinger, chairman of the pharmacology department at Yale School of Medicine and a co-founder of Sugen, the company that created Sutent. "We are now in a golden age of drug discovery."


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