Centocor (Johnson & Johnson) awarded the largest patent verdict in U.S. history

1.67 billion U.S. dollars, $1.16 billion in lost profit, and $504 million in royalties. That’s what Centocor is awarded in damages for infringement of their patents.

On Monday, June 29, a jury found that Abbott Laboratories had willfully infringed two patents covering antibodies against tumor necrosis factor owned by Centocor. Abbott’s drug Humira was found to infringe Centocor’s U.S. Patent Nos. 7,070,775 and 7,276,239. Humira is widely used in the treatment of various forms of arthritis, and is also approved for psoriasis and Crohn’s Disease.

Humira has been somewhat of a blockbuster for Abbott, and is said to have generated $4.5 billion in global sales last year. Centocor has made it clear that it isn’t seeking to block sales of the drug, only to get a share of the profit.

Therefore, this verdict is in a way the ultimate evidence that the patent system actually works in practice: it gives a patent owner a time-limited exclusive right to prevent others from commercially exploiting the protected invention. And needless to say, a strong patent portfolio can have a significant value. Ask Centocor.

Inga-Lill Andersson, European Patent Attorney

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