Merck comes up short in last-ditch effort to revive $2.54B patent verdict against Gilead

The Supreme Court declined taking up a hep C patent case between Merck and Gilead. (

After years of legal back-and-forth over a massive hepatitis C patent verdict, Merck’s efforts to revive the award have come up short. The Supreme Court refused to take up Merck’s case, meaning a lower court’s decision favoring Gilead will stand—and the $2.54 billion verdict is officially kaput.

In its Tuesday update, the Supreme Court said it would not take up the lawsuit between Merck subsidiary Idenix Pharmaceuticals and Gilead Sciences. Merck had won the $2.54 billion patent verdict in 2016 when a jury found Gilead had infringed on a Merck patent. The jury ordered Gilead to shell out those billions because of its high sales for hep C meds Harvoni and Sovaldi. 

During the years that followed, the companies battled over the massive award. In 2018, a federal judge found Merck’s ‘597 patent invalid and overturned the verdict. At the time, a Merck representative said the company didn’t believe the ruling reflected the “facts of the case.” Merck pledged to appeal. 

RELATED: Merck fails to resurrect its $2.5B hep C patent win as appeals court rules for Gilead 

That appeal effort hit a setback the following year, 2019, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the lower court’s ruling. Now, with the SCOTUS decision, Gilead will walk away from the litigation without having to pay the verdict. 

The case is separate from another patent fight between the companies in which Gilead was originally ordered to pay $200 million for infringement. A court later found attorney misconduct by Merck’s legal team and threw out the verdict. Merck tried taking the case to the Supreme Court, but the high court declined taking up the case in 2019.