Four years of ups and downs in the patent infringement dispute between Centocor, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, and Abbott Laboratories recently took a huge turn in Abbott’s favor. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Centocor’s patent claims were invalid and overturned a $1.67 billion verdict against Abbott Laboratories.
The dispute arises because of Abbott’s Humira drug, which produces pharmaceutical antibodies to treat arthritis and other immune conditions. Back in 1991, Centocor submitted a patent application for its drug that contained both a mouse and chimeric antibody. Simultaneously, Abbott pushed to create a fully-human antibody.
Centocor proceeded with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office submitting many continuation-in-part applications, including one in 1994 detailing the chimeric antibody with a mouse variable region. In 1996, Abbott’s patent entailed a “high affinity, neutralizing, A2 specific, fully-human antibody.” By 2002, Abbott was given the green light to market Humira. The patent for Centocor’s distinct chimeric antibody was still being processed in 2002.
The appeals court found that the 1994 CIP did not have a sufficient description about human antibodies or human variable regions to claim patent infringement. “A mere wish or plan for obtaining the claimed invention is not an adequate written description,” the appeal decision stated. Thus Centocor did not have constructive possession of the same patent or key parts of the Abbott patent.
Big pharma is big business. Abbott’s Humira is its best moneymaker with $6.55 billion in worldwide sales last year; Johnson & Johnson’s Remicade stacks up with $4.61 billion. Patent, copyright, and trademark disputes can compromise a business’ profits, marketing, and public relations. Expert legal counsel to ensure a business’ hard work stays in good hands is critical. To protect and help a business flourish, an experienced attorney is recommended early on to ensure patent documents and business proceedings are done properly with respect to the innovation and effort involved.
In Texas, Austin patent attorney and Austin business attorney Gregory D. Jordan has served diverse clients in intellectual property disputes. With an engineering degree and background as well as legal experience in this area, the Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan represents both intellectual property rights owners and alleged infringers.