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Court Extends Deadlines in Sirna, Protiva s Legal Row Over SNALP Tech Ownership

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A court this month granted Sirna Therapeutics and Protiva Biotherapeutics their request to extend various deadlines in their ongoing legal battle over the siRNA-delivery technology termed SNALPs.

Previously, the court said the companies must try to settle their dispute through an alternate dispute resolution program and scheduled an ADR conference for May 26.

Now, legal documents filed jointly by Sirna and Protiva with US District Court for the Northern District of San Francisco show that the court has pushed back this and other deadlines. According to the documents, the companies now have until June 23 to "meet and confer" about the ADR provider and process. The companies are to meet with a court representative at a court case-management conference on July 14.

The court also extended to June 7 Protiva's deadline for responding to Sirna's initial complaint.

Sirna and Protiva's legal row began in March when Sirna sued Protiva and its chief executive for breach of contract and fraud, alleging that Protiva licensed to Sirna a drug-delivery technology to which it doesn't have the rights (see timeline, below, and RNAi News, 3/2/2006).

Protiva fired back with lawsuits of its own against Sirna and former parent Inex Pharmaceuticals, which claims ownership of the delivery technology at the center of the fight (see RNAi News, 3/30/2006). Inex has also countersued Protiva (see RNAi News, 5/4/2006).

— Doug Macron ([email protected])

Tangled Web
November
2003
Protiva President and CEO Mark Murray tells RNAi News his company has developed a delivery technology termed SNALPs — stable nucleic acid lipid particles — that it has begun applying to siRNAs. He says Protiva is looking for partners in the RNAi field.
April
2005
A US Securities and Exchange Commission filing reveals Sirna has exclusively licensed the SNALP technology to help it develop and sell "RNAi therapeutics against certain undisclosed targets." Future legal filings would reveal Protiva also acquired the rights to certain Sirna technology for RNAi drug development.
July
2005
Sirna publishes data in Nature Biotechnology showing that therapeutically relevant doses of SNALP-delivered siRNAs achieved a significant knockdown of hepatitis B virus in mice.
January
2006
At the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Sirna President and CEO Howard Robin says Sirna plans to use internally developed nanoparticle-based drug-delivery technology, not SNALPs, in its hepatitis C program.
March
2006
Sirna sues Protiva for breach of contract and fraud, alleging that Protiva does not hold the rights to the SNALP technology for RNAi applications and therefore should not have signed the companies' April 2005 licensing deal.
March
2006
Protiva sues Sirna, alleging that the company misappropriated trade secrets as part of a "hidden agenda" to develop its own siRNA delivery technology based on SNALPs. Protiva also sues former parent Inex for inappropriately claiming ownership of SNALPs.
March
2006
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals publishes data in Nature showing that SNALPs could be used to deliver its apoB-targeting siRNAs systemically in non-human primates with significant effects. The work was done in collaboration with Protiva, but Alnylam announces that it has signed a drug-delivery technology licensing deal with Inex.
May
2006
Inex countersues Protiva, claiming that Protiva had limited rights to the technology from which SNALPs were developed. Inex also claims that Protiva had a contractual obligation to license improvements on the technology back to Inex.
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