Bristows, Taylor Wessing alumni spirit away human genome case

Bristows, Taylor Wessing alumni spirit away human genome case” />Two of the biggest names in IP, Bristows and Taylor Wessing, have missed out on the UK’s first-ever human genome patent litigation after the loss of key litigation partners.

Penny Gilbert, who left Bristows in March to set up IP boutique Powell Gilbert, is acting for life sciences company Human Genome Sciences (HGS) against US pharmaceuticals giant Eli Lily.

Taylor Wessing life sciences head Mark Hodgson is acting for Eli Lily and will take the case with him to Howrey when he leaves for the US firm at the end of April.

The case hinges on whether the HGS patent for a human gene sequence is valid, and it could decide the future of genome patents. Hodgson said: “Under the law, in order to patent a gene sequence, you have to attribute some industrial applicability.

“According to the patentee, the patent can be used for any number of a zillion things and we’re saying that’s not good enough.”

A similar case is pending in the European Patent Office, which is likely to be influenced by the ruling in the UK courts.

HGS holds more than 500 patents for inventions following the advances made when the human genome was fully mapped in 2001. The company licenses its research to larger pharma players, including Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline, which then use it to develop marketable drugs.

All counsel come from IP set Three New Square. Simon Thorley QC and Justin Turner are representing HGS, with Andrew Waugh QC and Colin Birss for Eli Lily.

The case is scheduled for July and is yet to be assigned a judge.