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Invitrogen Says Supreme Court s Merck v. Integra Ruling Excludes Research Tools

NEW YORK, June 14 (GenomeWeb News) - A ruling by the US Supreme Court that will allow drug makers to use compounds patented by other firms in their research should not have a negative impact on companies developing molecular biology tools, according to a statement Invitrogen released today.

 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that drug developers are exempt from patent infringement when using patented inventions "solely for uses reasonably related to the development and submission of information under a Federal law which regulates the manufacture, use, or sale of drugs."

 

Invitrogen noted in its statement, however, that the court did not include patented "research tools" in its interpretation.

 

The Court's decision was in favor of Germany's Merck, which had been using compounds patented by Integra LifeSciences in its cancer research. Integra sued Merck, which is not related to the US firm of the same name, for patent infringement in 1996.

 

But although Invitrogen submitted a brief to the court in support of Integra LifeSciences in March, the company today claimed the ruling as a victory because the Supreme Court did "not extend the statutory research use exemption to patented research tools."

 

In a footnote to the opinion, Invitrogen noted, the Court said that it would not express a view about "whether, or to what extent" current law "exempts from infringement the use of 'research tools' in the development of information for the regulatory process."

 

Alan Hammond, chief intellectual property counsel for Invitrogen, said, "In essence, while the Court found that companies may use patented inventions in research activities related to the drug compounds or targets themselves, it excluded patented research tools from its ruling. We believe, therefore, that the ruling will not have a material effect on Invitrogen's business."

 

See tomorrow's issue of BioCommerce Week, a GenomeWeb News sister publication, for additional information about the ruling and its potential impact on molecular biology tool vendors.

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