Bristol Myers asks Supreme Court to revive $1.2 bln cancer-drug patent win

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Register now for FREE unlimited access to
  • Summary
  • Law firms
  • Related documents
  • Bristol Myers unit called decision to toss win “devastating” for innovation
  • High court currently considering another case on biologic patents

(Reuters) – Bristol Myers Squibb Co’s Juno Therapeutics Inc and the Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate their $1.2 billion jury win in a patent battle with a unit of Gilead Sciences Inc.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit threw out the award last year, finding the cancer-treatment patent that Bristol Myers accused Gilead’s lymphoma drug Yescarta of infringing was invalid.

Juno and Sloan Kettering told the high court that the decision and similar Federal Circuit rulings have been “devastating for innovation,” particularly in the emerging field of biologic drugs.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to

A Bristol Myers spokesperson said Tuesday that the Federal Circuit decision “undermines patent protections, departs from legal precedent, and places vast and unnecessary burdens on inventors and scientists to secure IP protections.”

Gilead and its attorneys in the Federal Circuit case did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gilead’s Kite Pharma Inc created Yescarta, a biologic drug that reprograms the body’s immune cells to recognize and attack malignant cells. The drug earned Gilead nearly $700 million last year.

Juno and Sloan Kettering, which licenses the patent to Juno, sued Kite in 2017 for allegedly copying their technology.

A jury found in 2019 that Kite willfully infringed the patent and awarded Juno and Sloan Kettering $778 million in damages. A Los Angeles federal judge increased the award to $1.2 billion in 2020.

A Federal Circuit panel tossed the award last year, finding the patent was invalid because it lacked a sufficient written description.

Juno told the Supreme Court on Monday that the appeals court added patent requirements that do not exist in the Patent Act. The company said these force inventors, especially in the biologics field, to outline an “essentially infinite number” of potential variations of their inventions.

“In situations like the one here, the Federal Circuit’s test will frequently be impossible to meet,” Juno said.

The Supreme Court asked the U.S. government in April to weigh in on Amgen’s similar challenge to a ruling that invalidated patents on its biologic cholesterol drug Repatha, indicating the high court has some interest in the issue.

The case is Juno Therapeutics Inc v. Kite Pharma Inc, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 21A461.

For Juno: Gregory Castanias of Jones Day; Morgan Chu and Andrei Iancu of Irell & Manella; and Henry Hadad of Bristol Myers Squibb

For Kite: not available

Read more:

Gilead Sciences wins reversal of $1.2 bln award in patent case with Bristol Myers

Register now for FREE unlimited access to

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at

Read More

Lyndia Howe