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High Court Refuses to Revive Patent Suit

April 21, 1998|Bloomberg News

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a University of California lawsuit charging Eli Lilly & Co. with patent infringement for its Humulin synthetic insulin product. The justices left intact a lower court ruling that dismissed the suit seeking to force Eli Lilly to pay royalties on a product that accounted for $936 million in revenue last year. UC claimed it holds patents for using recombinant DNA to make insulin. The appeal to the high court was based on a procedural point: which court has authority to decide the patent fight. The justices earlier this year ruled on consolidation of similar lawsuits from around the country. They said a specially designated judge should resolve only joint pretrial questions and then send the cases back to the original court if trial is necessary. In its dispute with Lilly, UC wanted the cases to be tried in California, where it originally sued in 1990. However, the case was transferred to Indianapolis, where Lilly is based, for consolidation with four other lawsuits involving recombinant DNA. The federal judge who tried the case ruled for Lilly on the patent charges. A Washington-based federal appeals court upheld the verdict.

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