GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals has filed suit against Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics in Washington’s federal court, alleging that Novartis was incorrectly awarded a patent on a protein found in the type of bacteria that can cause meningitis. That protein induces an immune response and is a key element of a possible vaccine for meningitis.
GSK’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia yesterday by a team of Nixon Peabody lawyers, stems from a patent interference between Jean-Louis Reulle and Vincenzo Scarlato. According to GSK’s complaint, Reulle isolated the protein at issue and obtained a patent on it in 2004. The complaint says that GSK now owns the patent and has the “entire right, title, and interest” in that patent.
The dispute arose, the complaint says, when Scarlato filed a patent application in 2005 on similar technology. In that patent application, a Novartis subsidiary identified itself as the party with the legal interest in the patent. In September 2008, the subsidiary allegedly transferred the entire right, title, and interest in the patent application to its parent company. But when the dispute arose between GSK and Novartis over who was entitled to own the patent, Scarlato did not tell the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences about the transfer of title, the complaint says.
Despite the fact that Scarlato had not notified the board of the change in the patent’s controlling interest, the complaint says, the board entered judgment of priority in favor of Scarlato and against Ruelle.
GSK’s suit asks that the board’s judgment be reversed and decided in GSK’s favor. GSK also seeks attorney’s fees.
Louis Dolan, a Nixon Peabody partner who signed the complaint, did not immediately return calls for comment.