Howrey wins through for new client Eli Lilly in human genes patent case

Howrey has won a groundbreaking patent case for new client Eli Lilly after the High Court handed down its first-ever judgment on the patentability of human genes.

Mr Justice Kitchin handed victory to pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly against Human Genome Sciences (HGS), invalidating HGS’s patent of a gene sequence on ;the ;grounds ;of ­obviousness and lack of an application in industry.
In a long-awaited judgment of close to 330 paragraphs, Kitchin J considered whether HGS’s patent for Neutrokine-a was valid.

He concluded: “Whatever the merit of the discovery of Neutrokine-a, the specification contains no more than speculation about how it might be useful. It does not teach the person skilled in the art how to solve any technical problem.”

The case pitted Howrey against IP boutique Powell Gilbert, both of which won roles on the dispute after turbulence in the IP market last year.

Former Taylor Wessing life sciences head Mark Hodgson acted for Eli Lilly after taking the case and client with him when he moved to Washington DC-headquartered Howrey last year.

Powell Gilbert name partner Penny Gilbert advised HGS after leaving IP firm Bristows last year with four other partners to set up a new boutique.

All counsel came from IP set Three New Square. Simon Thorley QC and Justin Turner represented HGS, with Andrew Waugh QC and Colin Birss acting for Eli Lilly.