UPenn sues Roche's Genentech, says cancer treatments infringe patent

The Roche headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
  • Four Roche breast-cancer treatments infringe patent, UPenn says
  • UPenn said Roche knew of technology, copied willfully

(Reuters) - The University of Pennsylvania said in a lawsuit Tuesday that four metastatic breast-cancer treatments made by Roche's Genentech Inc infringe a patent for technology discovered by its cancer center.

UPenn said in its Delaware federal court complaint that Roche's Herceptin, Herceptin Hylecta, Perjeta and Phesgo mimic its patented cancer treatment that combines antibodies with radiation.

Switzerland-based Roche sold over $5 billion worth of the drugs worldwide in the first three quarters of 2021, according to a company report.

UPenn said researchers at its Abramson Cancer Center developed the patented technology after making the "surprising finding" that administering a compound to slow the growth of tumor cells enhances later radiation treatments.

The complaint said Genentech was previously aware of the patent, noting Roche's opposition to UPenn's related European patent applications, and accused Genentech of infringing willfully.

UPenn asked the court for an undisclosed amount of money damages.

The university and Genentech both declined to comment.

The case is Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania v. Genentech Inc, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, No. 1:22-cv-00145.

For UPenn: Elizabeth Holland, Nicholas Mitrokostas and Bill James of Goodwin Procter; Brian Farnan of Farnan LLP

For Genentech: n/a

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com