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UMass

The court determined that Alnylam and Max Planck have “not shown a substantial likelihood of success” on the merits of their case.

UMass further argued in its counterclaim that a key aspect of the disputed RNAi technology — the 3’ overhangs commonly incorporated into siRNAs — was an inherent feature of the RNAi molecules described in a patent application filed prior to another patent application from Max Planck that specifically claims the overhangs.

The plaintiffs' counsel also provided some background on the legal dispute, including details of an early-2004 meeting between the chief executives of Alnylam and rival Sirna Therapeutics that led up to the litigation.

According to RXi's top official, the company first acquired an option to the self-delivering technology because it "overlapped" with its own efforts to develop RNAi drugs that do not require a delivery vehicle.

In addition to assigning responsibility of the institute to the four-member group, rather than a single director, UMMS has also expanded the center's focus to include all RNA therapeutics, not just ones based on RNAi.

Additional court documents filed by Alnylam and Max Planck indicate that the inclusion of 3' overhang data in Tuschl-I patent applications is a primary issue in the legal dispute.

In doing so, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Massachusetts have all asked that the court reject Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Max Planck's request for an order blocking any Tuschl-I patent issuance.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants have sought to include in their patent applications inventions that belong solely to Max Planck and licensed exclusively to Alnylam. While licenses to the IP have been a big moneymaker for Alnylam, some companies have begun looking to alternative RNAi technologies.

According to court documents, the defendants have allegedly misappropriated and misrepresented as their own inventions solely owned by Max Planck and exclusively licensed by Alnylam.

The technology, called glucan-encapsulated siRNA particles, or GERPs, has been exclusively licensed by RXi Pharmaceuticals for use in developing RNAi-based therapeutics.

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