Kell Damsgaard of Morgan Lewis
Kell Damsgaard of Morgan Lewis (David Gehosky)

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ intellectual property practice last year rang up big wins in state and federal venues, from California to New York.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in June 2013 upheld a ruling in favor of Morgan Lewis clients Cornerstone Therapeutics Inc., its parent company and others. The judgment strengthened free speech protections for published scientific opinions. “It’s certainly something that has implications in the industry,” said partner Kell Damsgaard, who leads the IP practice.

The case arose when Cornerstone’s parent, Italy’s Chiesi Farmaceutici SpA, commissioned a scientific study that compared its infant respiratory drug against a similar medication made by ONY Inc. The study concluded that infants treated with ONY’s drug suffered higher mortality rates. When a scientific journal published the study, ONY sued, claiming false advertising among other wrongdoing. The trial court dismissed the claims and the Second Circuit affirmed.

Robert Balin, a partner in the New York office of Davis Wright Tremaine, represented co-defendant Nature America Inc., owner of the scientific journal. He praised the work of Morgan Lewis attorney J. Kevin Fee. “It was, I thought, a great win,” Balin said.

Morgan Lewis also scored big in December, when an intermediate California appeals court sustained a $415 million verdict in favor of the firm’s client, Asahi Kasei Pharma Corp. The California Supreme Court rejected an appeal in March, by which time interest had increased the award to $523 million. Asahi in 2006 licensed to California’s CoTherix Inc. a drug for treating high blood pressure in the lungs. Months later, Swiss rival Actelion Ltd. acquired CoTherix and discontinued Asahi’s drug.

Asahi sued Actelion and others, claiming license interference, among other things. The trial jury responded with a unanimous liability verdict that was upheld by California’s higher courts.

FIRM FACTS:

Year founded: 1873
Largest office: Philadelphia
Total attorneys: 1,404
IP partners: 51
Associates: 71
Patent agents: 18