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April 25, 2006
A Shot Across the Bow
The Ariad-Lilly suit that I spoke about here earlier this month is continuing along, with no news to report. But there is an interesting development: Amgen, surely one of the companies contacted by Ariad about infringement of their NF-kB patent, has decided to play offense. They've filed suit against Ariad in the US District Court in Delaware, seeking a declaratory judgement that Ariad's patent is invalid and that Amgen hasn't infringed any part of it. Interestingly, there's no press release about this to be had from Amgen. Ariad is the source of all the information on this - it's much more of a material event for them, so they're under greater regulatory pressure to disclose the news.
Such rulings can be sought when one party feels what the law terms a "reasonable apprehension" of legal action by another, and I'm sure that Ariad's letter would be enough to meet that requirement.
Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Patent Office's "Official Gazette", there's been a re-examination request filed for Ariad's original patent, as of last December. The applicant is listed as Bawa Biotechnology Consulting, which would be Raj Bawa's firm. They're well-known for doing biotech freedom-to-operate and infringement work, and I would assume that they're being paid by Lilly. Or maybe Amgen. Heck, maybe even someone else - there are enough people mad at Ariad that it's hard to narrow the list down.
My opinion hasn't changed: I think that Ariad deserves to lose this case, and that they will. If their patent goes down in flames, taking all others of its sort with it, that'll be even better.
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