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Jury says Gilead owes Bristol-Myers $752M for infringing on cell therapy patent

A jury in California has decided that Kite Pharma, now owned by Gilead Sciences Inc., owes Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Juno Therapeutics $752 million, saying that Kite's cell therapy Yescarta infringed a patent.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California jury awarded the full amount requested by Bristol-Myers' Juno, which sued in October 2017. Juno argued that researchers at Kite willfully used science obtained at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Sloan Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, which also took part in the lawsuit.

The $752 million includes $585 million in damages and 27.6% royalties on sales of Yescarta, according to court documents. Gilead reported Yescarta sales of $264 million in 2018.

The original lawsuit was filed the same day that Yescarta gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as a chimeric antigen receptor T cell, or CAR-T cell, therapy to treat certain types of lymphoma. CAR-T cell therapies involve infusing patients with lab-enhanced versions of their own cells to help fight cancer cells.

Bristol-Myers' Juno does not yet have a CAR-T therapy on the market. Juno's patent, dubbed '190, covers a mechanism that allows the patient's own immune cells to attack cancer cells in the blood.

"We are pleased with the jury's decision confirming the validity of the '190 patent finding that Kite willfully infringed the patent, and awarding us $752 million for Kite's infringement," a Bristol-Myers representative told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an email. "Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to defending intellectual property and that of its research partners, and protecting the incentives that drive innovative research including our pipeline of CAR-T therapies."

A representative from Gilead said the company expects to continue its defense in post-trial motions and with an appeal, as necessary.

"We remain steadfast in our opinion that Sloan Kettering's patent is not infringed and is invalid," the representative said in an email. "Given that Kite independently developed Yescarta and assumed all of the risk in its discovery and development, we do not believe Sloan Kettering and Juno are entitled to any level of damages."