Abbott Laboratories lost its battle against Johnson & Johnson on Monday, as a federal jury found the company guilty of patent infringement and levied a $1.67 billion in damages.
At issue was whether or not Abbott’s anti-tumor necrosis factor arthritis drug Humira infringed on J&J’s blockbuster Remicade, co-owned by New York University and marketed by J&J’s bio arm Centocor. Like Remicade, Humira is a fully human antibody, but the former drug once included some mouse-based components. Abbott claims that a fully human version did not exist when Humira was conceived; J&J didn’t deny the claim.
“J&J acknowledged at trial that it did not start working on a fully human antibody until 1997—two years after Abbott discovered Humira and one year after Abbott filed its patent applications for Humira,” stated Abbott spokesman Scott Stoffel in a press statement.
“We are pleased that the jury has ruled in our favor in the patent litigation case against Abbott,” said Kim Taylor, president, Centocor Ortho Biotech, in a release. “We are particularly gratified that the jury recognized our valuable intellectual property, finding our patent both valid and infringed. We will continue to assert intellectual property rights for our immunology therapies, as they offer significant advances in treatment for patients with a number of immune mediated inflammatory diseases.”
J&J currently shares overseas rights to Remicade with Schering-Plough. However, that deal got a bit squirrelly when Merck bought Schering earlier this year. The original deal called for controlling stakes in Remicade to revert to J&J if Schering was sold, but the reverse merger arrangement of the Merck/Schering deal managed to avert that scenario.
Merck and J&J are currently in arbitration to figure out that deal.
Reuters reports that Abbott is planning to appeal the verdict.