NEW YORK, Nov. 13 (GenomeWeb News) - Promega has sued Hoffman-La Roche under the US False Claims act, alleging that Roche overcharged the US government and its agencies by reuiring royalty payments for research using the Taq DNA polymerase, Promega said late today.
In the suit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on its own behalf and behalf of the US Government, Promega said it claimed that the Swiss drug and diagnostics giant "and its co-conspirators" engaged in "an overcharging scheme, which diverted millions in U.S. tax dollars that could otherwise have been used for research programs."
Promega said this scheme had several prongs: payment of royalties for use ot Taq "based upon a patent obtained by inequitable conduct," as well as "anticompetitive tying of sales of Taq to other products; deceptive licensing practices; and predatory threats of litigation."
Promega and its co-plaintiffs are suing for treble damages under the act (triple the amount of the damages suffered by the plaintiff,) as well as a civil penalty of $10,000 for each claim.
The lawsuit, according to Promega, rests partially on findings of inequitable conduct in an earlier patent dispute between it and Roche, in which the US District Court for the Northern District of California found that Roche's conduct in obtaining a research patent was inequitable. Roche appealed the judgment, but the Federal Court of appeals rejected the appeal and remanded the case back to the US District court for imposition of an appropriate remedy against Roche and adjudication of remaining issues.