Just days after announcing that it had settled a dispute over ownership of key intellectual property, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals disclosed that it has been sued by the University of Utah over the same IP.
According to an Alnylam filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the university has alleged that one of its researchers, Brenda Bass, is the inventor of the technology covered in the so-called Tuschl-II patent estate.
Alnylam said it disagrees with the claims and intends to “defend the action vigorously.”
The Tuschl-II patent applications relate to the use of siRNAs, 21 to 23 nucleotides in length and with 2- to 3-nucleotide-long 3' overhangs, to target specific mRNA degradation in mammals. A related patent estate, called Tuschl-I, claims essentially the same siRNA constructs, but without the overhangs.
In 2009, Alnylam and Max Planck, which hold the exclusive rights to Tuschl-II, sued the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Massachusetts for allegedly including data from the patent portfolio in Tuschl-I patent applications (GSN 7/9/2009).
The dispute was settled earlier this month (GSN 3/17/2011).
But with the latest litigation, Alnylam and Max Planck's rights to the technology appear to be in question once more.
Adding to Alnylam's woes is a separate lawsuit filed by partner Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, which alleges that Alnylam stole trade secrets related to proprietary lipid delivery technology (GSN 3/17/2011).