University of Rochester to Ask Full Court to Hear Patent Infringement Case

February 16, 2004

The University of Rochester will ask that all 12 judges of a federal appeals court consider a landmark patent infringement case involving the University’s patent covering cox-2 inhibitors.  On Friday, a three-judge panel of the court ruled the University’s patent invalid, upholding an earlier decision by a lower court. 

The University will ask the full court to hear the case because Friday’s decision appears to contradict earlier patent decisions and the opinions of well known legal scholars. 

The University of Rochester’s case stems back to 1992, when it filed an application to protect the inventions of Dr. Donald Young and other biomedical researchers at the University.   The University researchers had discovered the gene responsible for producing the enzyme called cox-2, revealed its role in causing inflammation and the methods for identifying drugs that would suppress inflammation without encouraging unwanted side effects such as stomach upset. The announcement at a conference of the discoveries by the University scientists set in motion a worldwide race among pharmaceutical companies to identify drugs that would inhibit the action of the enzyme.  In April of 2002 the University of Rochester was awarded U.S. patents covering the inventions and relating back to the filing date in 1992.   After receiving the patents, the University filed an infringement lawsuit against Pfizer, who in the interim had starting making and marketing the popular cox-2 inhibitor Celebrex.

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