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Becton, Partners Sue Over Alleged Patent Infringement

March 03, 2000|Bloomberg News

Becton, Dickinson & Co., the No. 1 U.S. maker of hypodermic needles and syringes, and two medical research partners are suing privately held rival AmCell Corp., alleging infringement on patents for cell manipulation during cancer therapy.

One of the partners is Nexell Therapeutics Inc., an Irvine cell therapy company, whose stock moved up 27% Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Wilmington, Del., contends Becton owns a license for two patents awarded to Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University in 1987 and 1990, and also licensed to Nexell.

The patents protect methods of isolating strong human "stem cells" that can be reintroduced into the blood after damaging chemotherapy.

Becton, Hopkins and Nexell contend in the suit that AmCell and units of Miltenyi Biotec GmbH of Germany obtained a sublicense to use the technology for laboratory research only, but instead are selling a cell-separation device for clinical use in the United States.

Officials of Sunnyvale-based AmCell could not immediately be reached to comment on the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

Nexell's stock closed at a 52-week high of $9.25, up $1.94 a share, in Nasdaq trading. Shares of New Jersey-based Becton rose 13 cents to $31.44 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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