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US judge reverses $2.54B hepatitis C drug patent verdict against Gilead

A federal judge in Delaware ruled that Gilead Sciences Inc. no longer has to pay Merck & Co. Inc. a record $2.54 billion in damages under a previous patent infringement verdict, Reuters reported.

In December 2016, a federal jury in a U.S. District Court in Delaware ordered Gilead to pay the amount after deciding that its blockbuster hepatitis C therapies Sovaldi and Harvoni infringed a Merck patent. The jurors found the patent, which covers hepatitis C treatments, valid.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark reversed the verdict Feb. 16, ruling Merck's patent invalid because it failed to meet a rule requiring the company to disclose how to make the drug the patent covered without undue experimentation.

Merck plans to appeal the verdict, Reuters reported, citing a statement by the New Jersey-based drugmaker. Merck acquired the patent when it bought Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. in 2014.