GSK sues Roche for patent infringement

The cancer drug Herceptin is in the middle of a tug-of-war between its maker, Roche's Genentech, and GlaxoSmithKline. The U.K. drugmaker is suing Roche, alleging that its production of Herceptin infringes its patents covering "antibody purification." And Genentech immediately fired back with a lawsuit of its own, asking a U.S. judge to affirm that it hasn't stepped on GSK's patents.

At issue are two patents GSK obtained in 2008 and last month, Bloomberg reports. Apparently, they cover a particular process that GSK believes to be used during Herceptin manufacturing. Roche and Genentech infringe the patent by "making and/or having made therapeutic antibody products, including without limitation Herceptin," the suit claims (as quoted by Reuters). GSK is seeking compensatory damages.

What does GSK really want? Licensing fees and/or royalties, we suspect. After all, GSK doesn't hold the patent on Herceptin itself, so it can't exactly make and sell the drug. And you may recall that a U.K. trust, The Mathilda and Terence Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, has successfully gone after Abbott Laboratories and Johnson & Johnson--and sued Amgen and Wyeth--for royalties on using their TNF alpha inhibitors in combination with methotrexate for arthritis treatment.

- read the Bloomberg story
- get more from Reuters