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Patent royalties suit against Harvard settled

Details of the agreement between former grad student Mark Charest and the school are undisclosed

by Jyllian Kemsley
June 27, 2016

Credit: Courtesy of Mark Charest
Photo of Mark G. Charest.
Credit: Courtesy of Mark Charest

Harvard University chemistry Ph.D. graduate Mark G. Charest has settled his lawsuit against the school. Charest alleged that he was coerced into accepting low royalty payments for a synthetic route to tetracycline antibiotics that he and others patented and was seeking an increase in royalty payments and damages. The terms of the settlement agreement were not disclosed.

“In light of my claims and goals in bringing this litigation, I am very pleased to accept terms I view as equitable,” Charest said in a June 23 statement. Charest worked in the lab of Harvard chemistry professor Andrew G. Myers and graduated in 2004. Charest recently founded life sciences investment company Phenomic Capital, said his lawyer, Brian O’Reilly of O’Reilly IP.

“The litigation was resolved on mutually agreeable terms,” said David Cameron, Harvard’s director of media relations.

Reaction scheme for tetracycline antibiotic synthesis.
Credit: C&EN
Charest sued Harvard over royalty payments for a patented synthesis of tetracycline antibiotics.

The patent in question was licensed to Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals, which Myers founded in 2006 and is now publicly traded. The company has been struggling to get U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval for eravacycline, an antibiotic that the company aims to market for treating drug-resistant bacterial infections. After positive Phase III clinical trial results for intra-abdominal infections were announced in 2014, the company announced last year that a Phase III study for urinary tract infections failed. In May, the company said that FDA is requiring an additional positive phase III trial to support a New Drug Application.

Intellectual property experts have previously told C&EN that it is rare for students to take on a university as Charest did. But “I think that there is a sea change coming with respect to students’ willingness to stand up to the power imbalances they face at large universities,” O’Reilly said.



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