SAN DIEGO — Ending a three-year legal battle, Hybritech Inc. has settled its patent infringement suit against Monoclonal Antibodies Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., accepting $2.25 million in past damages while granting MAI a one-year license to use Hybritech's patent to make products for diagnosing human health.
The settlement of the suit, which involved MAI's signing a consent decree acknowledging Hybritech's patent, was closely watched in the biotechnology industry. The agreement clears the stage for a still-pending and potentially larger patent infringement suit that Hybritech brought last December against Abbott Laboratories, a $3-billion health-care company based in Chicago.
Both cases center on Hybritech's 1979 patent for monoclonal antibody "sandwich assay" technology that Hybritech, a San Diego-based unit of Eli Lilly & Co., insists is illegally incorporated in the products of several medical diagnostic companies.
Hybritech's patent so far has held up in court, but competitors, including Abbott, insist the technology is "obvious" and therefore non-proprietary.
Hybritech filed suit against MAI in 1984, alleging that MAI's pregnancy and ovulation tests infringed on Hybritech's patent. The MAI products that Hybritech said infringed on its patent accounted for 85% of MAI's $6.2 million in fiscal 1987 revenue, MAI President Thomas Glaze said.
After a lower court ruled against Hybritech, the same U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington that will hear the Abbott case later this year upheld the validity of Hybritech's patent in September, 1986.