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The Supreme Court Tuesday sent a patent dispute involving pharmaceutical developer MedImmune Inc. and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Centocor Inc. back to a lower federal court, a step that will likely allow MedImmune to challenge a Centocor patent while continuing to pay royalties on it.

The Court’s ruling was expected, as the case presents the same issues as a dispute between MedImmune and Genentech Inc. that the Supreme Court resolved in MedImmune’s favor Jan. 9. At issue in both cases is whether a company licensing a patent from another company must take the risk of violating the license contract in order to challenge the validity of the patent.

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