WASHINGTON, D.C. (CN) - Abbott Laboratories does not have to pay a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary more than $1.67 billion in damages after the Federal Circuit on Wednesday overturned the verdict of a jury in a patent-infringement trial.
The subsidiary, Centocor Ortho Biotech, filed suit after Abbott patented an arthritis drug, Humira. Centocor claimed Humira infringed on the patent for its medicine Remicade. In 2009, a federal jury in Texas awarded the challenger $1.67 billion in damages, the largest patent infringement award in U.S. history.
Later the trial court granted Abbott partial judgment as a matter of law, finding that the company did not willfully infringe on the Centocor patent.
Still unhappy, Abbott appealed for further judgment that the verdict was invalid.
The Federal Circuit, which presides over patent cases, agreed and dismissed Centocor's claims. The three-judge panel found that the patent, co-issued to Centocor and New York University, failed to satisfy the written description requirement.
The judges note that Centocor must rely on the 1994 applications for the company's technology to predate Abbot's 1996 patent application. But the 1994 application was vague as to how its arthritis therapy uses human antibodies, as opposed to antibodies produced in mice.
"Besides pointing to these limited references to fully human antibodies, none of which relate to the specific critical limitations in the asserted claims, Centocor suggests that written description for the asserted claims comes from the limitations described in the claim language itself," Judge Sharon Prost wrote for the court. "However, this specific claim language was not added until 2002 and is not part of the 1994 ... applications as filed.
"Thus, while the patent broadly claims a class of antibodies that contain human variable regions, the specification does not describe a single antibody that satisfies the claim limitations," Prost wrote.
In a statement on its website, Johnson & Johnson says the original verdict was for $1.8 billion.
"We are disappointed by the decision," Centocor president Rob Bazemore said in the statement. "We are considering whether to ask for reconsideration by the panel or by the court of appeals as a whole."
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