Bristol-Myers, Genentech Patent Fight

Pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. sued competitor Genentech preemptively to “lift the cloud” of potential patent infringement over its treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases.  Bristol-Myers asked a federal judge May 3 to determine that it does not infringe Genentech’s patents, known as Cabilly patents, on uses of drugs Erbitux and Yervoy.

Bristol-Myers makes and sells Yervoy, a melanoma treatment, in the US.  Erbitux is made by ImClone, a unit of Eli Lilly & Co., and is used to treat colon cancer and other tumors.  Eli Lilly filed a separate action over Genentech’s Cabilly patents in March in federal court in Oakland.

Without a declaration by the court that its drug sales do not infringe Genentech’s patents “the threat of enforcement of the Cabilly patents poses a substantial risk to plaintiff as well as to patients, nurses and doctors now using Erbitux and Yervoy,” the suit states.

Bristol-Myers says it disputes Genentech’s assertions that the Cabilly patents broadly cover the use of well-known, conventional recombinant methods to produce any antibody product in any host cell.

The case was assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins.  The Eli Lilly suit was assigned to U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland.

Case:  Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Genentech, Inc., No. C13-2045NC

Eli Lilly v. Genentech, Inc., No. C13-919YG