Statement from the University of Rochester on Ruling in Cox-2 Infringement Case

July 02, 2004

"This is obviously disappointing, although the fact that there are five separate opinions written confirms the view that this is a major issue of patent law"

Today a federal appeals court denied a request by the University of Rochester for an en banc hearing of its patent infringement case involving the class of drugs called cox-2 inhibitors, with four judges dissenting. In February a three-judge panel of that court upheld a lower court's ruling that declared the University's patent invalid on the grounds that it did not provide sufficient information to meet what the court described as a "written description" requirement. An en banc hearing, if granted, would have put the case before all 12 judges of the appeals court.

"This is obviously disappointing, although the fact that there are five separate opinions written confirms the view that this is a major issue of patent law," said University President Thomas H. Jackson. "We will be reading the opinions and considering our next steps over the coming days."

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 2000 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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