Celgene fights for sanction on patent challenger Bass

Kyle Bass

Celgene ($CELG) is hedge fund manager Kyle Bass' latest patent target, it says--but the biotech isn't taking the news lying down.

The New Jersey company has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to sanction Bass and others behind his Coalition for Affordable Drugs, which has been spooking pharma companies with its attempts to overturn their IP protection, Reuters reports. The company figures it can start by tossing out his challenges to Celgene's own patents on thalidomide and related cancer drugs.

Bass has been touting a noble cause since he promised to go after drug patents early this year. Drugmakers use "evergreening" to eke out extra protection for their products, keeping them expensive for longer than they should be, he's argued.

Celgene, though, says Bass' real motive is to make money short-selling the stocks of the pharma companies he targets, banking on share prices dropping after patent reviews are filed.

Bass and his partners want "to line their own pockets at the expense of public pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders," the company said in legal papers seen by the news service.

Celgene isn't the only drugmaker that feels that way. Industry trade groups PhRMA and BIO in May asked Congress to help them thwart Bass by making changes to the inter partes review system that's so far allowed his fund to go after patents for drugs including Acorda Therapeutics' ($ACOR) Ampyra, Shire's ($SHHPG) Lialda and Gattex and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and AbbVie's ($ABBV) Imbruvica.

As PhRMA CEO John Castellani told the NationalJournal at the time, Bass' justification is "horse hockey."

"This is rather akin to the arsonist who all of a sudden goes into the extinguisher business, then claims to be a fire-safety expert," he said.

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