Since February of 2010, Alzheimer’s Institute of America (AIA) has been embroiled in a patent infringement suit it brought against a number of defendants, claiming infringement of certain patents covering the genetic mutation, dubbed the “Swedish mutation”, that causes early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. Last week, AIA dropped the case against one defendant, Jackson Laboratory of Bar Harbor, Maine, for an unusual and interesting reason.
The suit alleged that Jackson Laboratory was infringing the cited patents by providing a number of mouse models to academic institutions for Alzheimer’s research. Jackson Laboratory requested the assistance of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since they fund much of Jackson Laboratory’s work. In an unprecedented move, the NIH intervened and provided Jackson Laboratory a letter granting its “authorization and consent” to use and manufacture any invention claimed in a U.S. patent for work performed in connection with particular grants given to Jackson Laboratory, including those relating to Alzheimer’s research. This maneuver essentially provided Jackson Laboratory with a compulsory patent license as a federal contractor that effectively shields it from patent infringement liability, since AIA would have to then sue the federal government to continue this claim. Accordingly, the case against Jackson Laboratory was dismissed, though litigation continues as to other remaining defendants.
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