By Suresh Pillai --
Beckman Asks for Dismissal in Patent Dispute with Sequenom
Following the completion of a Markman hearing in a dispute with Sequenom Inc. concerning patents covering genotyping methods, Beckman Coulter has asked the District Court to dismiss its complaint. In the lawsuit, Beckman Coulter had contended that Sequenom willfully infringed Beckman's patented GenomeLab SNPstream Genotyping System, covered by U.S. Patent Nos. 5,888,819, 6,004,744, and 6,537,748. All three patents-in-suit are owned by Orchid Cellmark, Inc. (the second named plaintiff in the suit) and are the subject of a licensing agreement between Orchid and Beckman. In the suit, Beckman sought a permanent injunction, damages, and attorney fees. Following the filing of the suit, Sequenom filed counterclaims seeking dismissal of the case, asserting that the patents-in-suit were invalid and unenforceable.
Last week, however, the parties filed a joint motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in which they asked the Court to dismiss Beckman's claims with prejudice and to dismiss Sequenom's claims without prejudice, leaving the door open for Sequenom to reassert the invalidity and unenforceability of the patents-in-suit at some future date. The District Court granted the joint motion and dismissed the case.
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Refuses to Lift Monsanto Injunction
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused Monsanto's motion to lift an injunction that prevents the company from selling its patented Roundup Ready alfalfa seed prior to completion of environmental impact studies on how use of the product may affect neighboring crops. The original lawsuit was filed in 2006 by environmental groups and a consortium of conventional seed companies, led by Geertson Seed Farms, and sought to force the United States government to rescind its 2005 approval of the Monsanto Roundup Ready product pending a complete environmental study. In their complaint, the plaintiffs claimed that the danger of cross pollination of Roundup Ready crops could contaminate wildtype alfalfa fields. The plaintiffs also asserted that overuse of the Monsanto product could give rise to resistant "super weeds" or could contaminate ground water.
A District Court judge agreed with the plaintiffs. In a 2007 ruling, the Court ruled that the USDA had failed to address the concerns raised by the plaintiffs and granted the plaintiffs an injunction pending completion of a complete USDA environmental study. Although the USDA originally joined with Monsanto in the original action, the USDA did not join Monsanto in its petition for a rehearing. Following two affirmations of the lower court ruling, the Ninth Circuit denied Monsanto's request and refused to accept any future petitions for rehearing. Following the latest Ninth Circuit decision, Monsanto's only possible source of recourse is the United States Supreme Court.
Jury Awards Record $1.67 Billion Verdict to Centocor in Humira Infringement Suit
On Monday, a jury found that Abbott Laboratories had willfully infringed two patents covering Humira®, owned by Centocor, Inc., and awarded Centocor $1.67 billion in damages. The damages awarded were based upon the jury's conclusion that Centocor had suffered $1.168 billion in lost profits. In addition to lost profits, the jury awarded Centocor an additional $504 million as a reasonable royalty. This award appears to be the largest patent infringement award in history.
The patents-in-suit, U.S. Patent Nos. 7,070,775 and 7,276,239, cover recombinant A2-specific TNFα-specific antibodies. Humira® is widely used in the treatment of various forms of arthritis and recently received FDA approval to be used in the treatment of Crohn's disease. Centocor originally filed suit in 2007 (see "Court Report," April 23, 2007, and "Biotech/Pharma Docket," June 8, 2009), claiming that Abbott willfully infringed upon both Centocor patents.
EBI Patent Term Adjustment Suit Stayed Pending Outcome of Wyeth v. Dudas
The current case of EBI Food Safety BV v. Doll has been stayed pending the outcome of Wyeth v. Dudas. EBI Food Safety originally filed suit in April, claiming that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office calculation of patent term adjustment for its issued patent, U.S. Patent No. 7,438,901, was erroneous in that it deprived EBI of one year of patent protection. EBI claimed that the patent term adjustment method used in Wyeth should be the correct method for calculating patent term. Under this method, the EBI patent term should be adjusted to 703 days; EBI is seeking to have the new term reflected within the terms of the patent itself.
The stay is the latest in a series of stays in pending lawsuits where the central issue is whether the USPTO correctly calculated patent term adjustment. All of the suits have been stayed pending a final outcome of Wyeth. As reported on Patent Docs, Wyeth is currently under appeal after a D.C. District Court granted Wyeth's motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the USPTO used an erroneous method to calculate patent term adjustment.