Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. has lost a patent infringement suitagainst Pharmacia Inc. for monoclonal antibody purificationtechnology.

A jury in U.S. District Court in San Francisco found last weekthat Pharmacia did not infringe Bio-Rad's U.S. patent No.4,704,366. The jury also invalidated the patent on grounds ofobviousness, anticipation and failure to disclose the best modefor practicing the invention.

The '366 patent, issued in 1987, covers a process to purifyMAbs using Protein A with a high-salt binding buffer. Bio-Radof Hercules, Calif., filed for a patent in June 1984 and maderapid inroads into the MAb separations market when it beganselling a kit for researchers shortly thereafter, said Roger Cook,an attorney at Townsend & Townsend, who acted as leadcounsel for Bio-Rad.

According to Cook, Piscataway, N.J.-based Pharmacia figuredout the composition of the product through reverse engineeringand published the results in 1986. Bio-Rad filed its suit in1988.

"In 1986, Pharmacia found out what the formula was, andthere wasn't a patent on it at the time, although Bio-Rad hadapplied for it," said David Eiseman of Bronson, Bronson &McKinnon, counsel for Pharmacia. "Pharmacia published itbecause it felt the scientific community ought to know how todo it."

Cook predicted the verdict would be reversed on appeal. "Thejury found lack of infringement because the judge created abrand new rule of law, which he called a 'bright-line rule,'according to which nothing Pharmacia did before the patentissued could be used as evidence of induced infringement," hesaid. "That rule isn't going to stand because it's inconsistentwith the patent statute."

Bio-Rad (AMEX:BIO.A) will also appeal reversal of the patent.

Pharmacia sued Bio-Rad last year in District Court in NewJersey, alleging infringement of Pharmacia's U.S. patent No.3,995,081, which issued in November 1976, said Eiseman. Thepatent covers the use of immobilized protein A for purifyingMAbs. No trial date has been set. -- Karen Bernstein040692BIO.A

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