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An Illinois pharmaceutical firm has slapped Children’s Hospital in Boston with a patent infringement suit that claims the hospital and some of its top cancer researchers conspired to steal credit for developing a cutting-edge drug in treating cancerous tumors. The complaint, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Boston, alleges that Children’s Hospital employees Dr. Yihai Cao and Dr. Judah Folkman stole the idea for the drug from Dr. Donald Davidson, an employee of Abbott Laboratories. The drug is designed to cut-off the blood-supply to a cancerous tumor. “If the allegations are true then the patent is invalid,” said attorney Ingrid A. Beattie, who sits on the Board of Governors of the Boston Patent Law Association. “All of the parties that contributed to the conception of an invention must be listed on the patent.” LEADING THE PACK Dr. Folkman has been a leading developer in the field of angiostatin proteins, which inhibit development of new blood vessels. He had long theorized that, since tumors rely on new blood vessels to survive, blocking the development of blood vessels forming around cancerous bodies could restrict the growth of the malignancies. Dr. Davidson, who was researching angiostatin proteins for Abbott, entered into an agreement with Folkman and Children’s Hospital to share information under the condition of confidentiality. The confidentiality agreement stated that neither side was supposed to reveal the other’s findings to an outside party. When Davidson developed Kringle 5, a drug that restricts the formation of blood vessels, he shared the product with Folkman and Cao, presumably under the terms of the confidentiality agreement. Abbott Laboratories’ complaint alleges that Folkman and Cao subsequently proceeded to file a patent for the drug without listing Davidson or Abbott Laboratories as inventors. The patent was then assigned to Children’s Hospital. “The Defendants did not inform Dr. Davidson or anyone at Abbott that they would file or had filed a patent application on the Kringle 5 invention,” the complaint states. “Instead, the Defendants kept their scheme to patent Abbott’s Kringle 5 invention secret.” HARD WORK ON BOTH ENDS If Abbott can prove the allegations in its complaint, it would mean that the court would have the right to substitute Dr. Davidson as the inventor on the patent. It also means that Children’s Hospital would be removed as an assignee of the patent. Both Children’s Hospital and Abbott Laboratories have issued statements claiming they worked hard to reach an out-of-court settlement before discussions broke down. Now that the complaint has been filed, both sides predict success in court. “Abbott is confident in its position and will vigorously defend its right to the intellectual property at stake,” said Fahey-Widman. For its part, Children’s Hospital claims that it was infuriated by Abbott Laboratories allegations. “We find it unconscionable that Abbott would seek to damage the reputation of Children’s Hospital and its scientists by making inflammatory and irresponsible charges, all of which we vigorously deny,” the hospital said in a press release.

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