Penn faces lawsuit for patent fraud

Penn faces lawsuit for patent fraud

October 31st, 2011 // 11:53 am @

The pursuit of effective cancer treatments is not only fraught with scientific complexities, but also legal complications.

Biotech company Genentech is suing Penn for patent fraud on a cancer treatment that both entities believe to be theirs.

At Penn, the treatment was tested on transgenic mice who were engineered to have cancer. When a patent from biotech company Genentech came to Penn’s attention, they claimed Genentech was infringing on their patent.

Genentech filed a complaint in May 2010 and is now suing for patent fraud.

Furthermore, according to court documents, Genentech also believes Penn is misrepresenting its patent, alleging that Penn inaccurately reported both the life expectancy and final population size of their lab mouse test group.

“Genentech is seeking a determination that Genentech is not infringing a patent owned by the University,” Penn’s defending attorney Gary Frischling wrote in an email.

According to Frischling, the case is currently in discovery -— the pretrial stage in which the two parties exchange evidence -— and will be taking place at the United States District Court of the California Northern District under Judge Paul Singh Grewal.

Derek Jokelson, a Philadelphia attorney not affiliated with the case, said that in order for the trial to take place in California, Genentech would have had to allege that Penn had substantial contact with them in that state. The filed suit said they had 50 different agreements with Penn over the years and that a researcher from Penn had been working in their facilities.

He also explained that Genentech isn’t asking for monetary compensation. Instead they want equitable relief — meaning they want the court to declare Penn’s patent invalid. If this happens, Penn will lose all rights to the patent.

Patent trials can be over in a day or last many months, according to Jokelson — however, he believes that since this is a specialized case, it will take time to train the judge and jury. “[These kinds of cases] tend to take longer and be very expensive,” he said, adding that the typical length for similar cases is two years.

There are several ways in which Penn can stop the suit, including motioning for a summary judgement, Jokelson said. But, “if it goes to trial it could be a battle,” he said.

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