Ariad Faces Court Reversal in Eli Lilly Dispute
Mon, 04/06/2009 - 5:06am
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Friday an appeals court reversed a ruling in the company's patent lawsuit claiming Eli Lilly and Co. products infringed on the company's technology. In 2006, a U.S. District Court jury in Boston awarded Ariad and three co-plaintiffs about $62.5 million. Ariad and its partners accused El Lilly of infringing a patent that covers any medical treatment targeting the body's molecular pathway called NF-kappa B. The specific Eli Lilly drugs at issue included the osteoporosis drug Evista and sepsis treatment Xigris. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed that decision, saying that four of the patent claims used to support Ariad's case were invalid because of inadequate written description. Ariad said the court did not rule on other validity issues by Eli Lilly. "While we are disappointed by the Appeals Court's ruling, the decision involves only one of the technical requirements for validity and focuses solely on the four asserted claims," said Ariad Chairman and Chief Executive Dr. Harvey J. Berger, in a statement. "We believe that this decision may allow us to pursue further legal action and judicial review of the ruling." Eli Lilly representatives said they were pleased with the ruling because they believe the decision applied long-standing patent law principles. "Over many years the court's rulings have provided effective protection for biotechnology inventions while rejecting attempts at claims extending beyond the inventor's work," said Robert A. Armitage, senior vice president and general counsel for Lilly, in a statement. Evista is one of Eli Lilly's best-selling drugs, with sales of just under $1.08 billion in 2008.