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Federal Circuit Rules for Roche in HIV Test Kit Dispute with Stanford
  By Andrew Longstreth
September 30, 2009
We bet Stanford University is ruing the day it filed a patent infringement suit against the Swiss drug giant Roche over its HIV test kits. In a 25-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Wednesday that Stanford never had standing to bring suit because it couldn't establish ownership of the patents at issue. It determined that Roche owned the patents and instructed the lower court to dismiss Stanford's suit.
Stanford first sued Roche in 2005, alleging that Roche's kits violated Stanford's method patents for quantifying HIV in blood samples and measuring the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs. Roche responded that it took ownership of the patents in question when it bought part of a company that worked with Stanford researchers in the 1980s to develop the patents. San Francisco federal district court judge Marilyn Patel denied Roche's ownership claims but granted its counterclaim that Stanford's patents were invalid for obviousness.
On appeal, the federal circuit made things even worse for Stanford. The appellate judges found that the case shouldn't have gotten as far as a consideration of the patents' validity because Stanford couldn't establish ownership rights and thus didn't have standing to bring suit. The appellate court ruled that Roche owned the patents.
Neither Ricardo Rodriguez of Cooley Godward Kronish, who argued for Stanford, nor Adrian Pruetz of Pruetz Law Group, who argued for Roche, were available for comment. Joining Pruetz on the appeals team for Roche were attorneys from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges.
Court Rules Against Stanford in Patent Dispute
A federal appeals court on Wednesday directed a lower court to dismiss a patent infringement challenge that Stanford University filed against Roche Pharmaceuticals, finding that the university had not sufficiently protected its rights to an HIV-related technology that one of its researchers developed, in part, while doing work for an outside company that has since become part of Roche. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit partially overturns a lower court judge's 2005 ruling that invalidated the patents in question; the appeals panel's ruling says the lower court should not have reached that point, because Stanford had essentially let its rights to the invention pass to the researcher, who in turn assigned them to the Roche-owned company. Officials at Stanford did not respond to a request for comment.
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