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Court Backs Lilly In Patent Case

by Glenn Hess
March 29, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 13

A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of Eli Lilly & Co. in a patent dispute with Ariad Pharmaceuticals. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that Lilly did not violate a patent held by Ariad covering methods of treating human disease by regulating cell-signaling activity. Ariad and its partners had alleged that two Lilly drugs—Evista for osteoporosis and Xigris for sepsis—infringed Ariad’s patent. In 2007, a district court in Massachusetts agreed and ordered Lilly to pay $62.5 million in damages to Ariad and its coplaintiffs plus royalties on future sales of the two drugs. But the appeals court threw out that verdict, ruling that Ariad’s patent claims were invalid because the company had failed to adequately describe its invention. “The decision confirms the need to provide solid written-description support for any invention when an application is first filed,” Lawrence M. Green, an attorney at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, a Boston law firm, comments on the case. A university inventor, he says, may need to “more fully develop his invention and give more thought as to what the applications of any fundamental discovery may be at a very early stage.”


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