Abbott prevails as Supremes pass on J&J patent suit

The U.S. Supreme Court won't take up the Humira patent question. The high court's decision ends an ongoing squabble over Abbott Laboratories' ($ABT) tumor necrosis factor inhibitor, and whether it stepped on Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) TNF blocker Remicade. And it lifts a cloud over Humira, one of Abbott's key drugs, at a time when the company is preparing to split off its pharma division into a separate firm.

Previously, a lower court had decided in favor of J&J, saying Humira did infringe the Remicade IP. For its suffering, J&J won $1.67 billion in damages. But Abbott refused to accept that decision, and an appeals court agreed with its arguments. The panel threw out the damages award and reversed the patent-infringement ruling, saying J&J and Abbott had used different strategies in formulating the two TNF blockers.

So, J&J asked the Supreme Court to review that ruling, saying the appeals court had effectively raised the bar on biotech patents. No dice, and no damages for J&J. And, as Bloomberg points out, no hearing of J&J's ideas about broadly written drug patents, something Novo Nordisk ($NVO) and Bavarian Nordic had both asked the court to consider. Meanwhile, Abbott's own lawsuits, which claim J&J's Remicade follow-up Simponi and a psoriasis drug Stelara breach the Illinois-based company's patents, remain pending.

- read the Reuters news
- get more from The Wall Street Journal
- see the Bloomberg story