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Arbitrator Voids Beckman's Sale of HPV IP to Ventana; Beckman's Business Not Affected

This update includes comment from Beckman Coulter.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — An arbitration panel has ruled that Beckman Coulter violated the terms of an original cross-license agreement between Institute Pasteur and Digene when it sold its human papillomavirus intellectual property to Ventana, Digene announced today.
 
The International Centre for Dispute Resolution of the American Arbitration Association ruled that Beckman’s sale of the business to Ventana in September 2002 is “void,” claiming the transaction violated an agreement between the Institute Pasteur and Digene that prevented Beckman from supplying unfinished HPV 35 materials to third parties, Digene said.
 
In a statement, Digene CEO Evan Jones called the ruling “an important positive step forward for Digene in its efforts to defend its intellectual property portfolio.”
 
According to a statement released by Beckman Coulter today, the arbitration panel also ruled that the company “was permitted, as part of its sale of its HPV business to Ventana, to assign the HPV licenses Beckman Coulter had previously received from Institut Pasteur.”
 
Beckman said that business and those licenses “are and have been properly in the hands of Ventana” since September 2002. Beckman added that the arbitrator’s findings mirror those of an April 2005 decision by the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris “in a challenge brought by Institut Pasteur to the same transaction.”
 
However, Beckman said the panel “did find that it was improper for the company to have sold HPV cell paste, a reagent, to Ventana prior to the close of the [acquisition].” These sales occurred before September 2002 and were valued at less than $10,000, and “Digene has requested no damages from Beckman Coulter in this regard,” Beckman said.
 
Finally, the arbitration panel “questioned the validity” of a supply agreement between Ventana and Beckman Coulter, struck at the time of the 2002 acquisition, which allows Beckman to become a customer of Ventana for HPV materials.
 
However, Beckman said it “has never purchased HPV materials under this supply agreement and has no plans to do so,” and added that the company “has stated it plans to terminate the supply.”
 
Beckman added that while the arbitrator found the sale of the unfinished HPV materials was improper, the company was allowed to assign the licenses to Ventana.   
 
No actions are pending against Beckman regarding any aspects of the transactions and its business will not be impacted by the arbitrator’s ruling, Beckman said.
 
Ventana purchased Beckman Coulter’s HPV business and corresponding assets in September 2002. Beckman acquired the assets from Institute Pasteur though a 1991 sublicense agreement.
 
Ongoing litigation filed by Digene against Ventana was stayed until after the outcome of the arbitration, though it was unclear whether a date has been set for those proceedings.
 
Calls to Digene were not returned by deadline.

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