Abbott loses $1.67B patent fight to J&J

It's the patent judgment to end all patent judgments. A federal jury in Texas said Abbott Laboratories should pay some $1.7 billion to Johnson & Johnson for copycatting its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade. J&J's Centocor subsidiary had alleged that Abbott's Humira was made with technology J&J exclusively licensed from New York University.

Abbott, however, argued that Humira is its own animal--literally. Rather than deriving the drug partly from mouse DNA, as Remicade is, Abbott made it entirely with human DNA, the company claims.

Both drugs are big-time sellers for their respective companies. Humira brought some $4.5 billion for Abbott last year, accounting for 15 percent of its revenues, while Remicade delivered some $1 billion to J&J's top line just during the first quarter of 2009.

"We are particularly gratified that the jury recognized our valuable intellectual property, finding our patent both valid and infringed," Centocor President Kim Taylor said in a statement. But Abbott says the fight's not over yet. An Abbott spokesman told the Chicago Tribune, "We are disappointed in this verdict, and we are confident in the merits of our case and that we will prevail on appeal."

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