News of the WeekBIOMEDICAL PATENTS

Startling Revelations in UC-Genentech Battle

Science  07 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5416, pp. 883-886
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5416.883b

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Summary

In shocking testimony last month in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, a former researcher at Genentech Inc. of South San Francisco said that in 1978, he secretly removed a bacterial clone from a lab he had recently left at the University of California (UC), San Francisco and transferred it to his new employer. The witness, Peter Seeburg--who is now at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg--testified that the clone helped lead to Genentech's patent for the production of human growth hormone by bacterial synthesis. Seeburg testified for UC in a suit alleging that Genentech has been violating UC's own patent on growth hormone. The university is asking the court to award damages of about $400 million, according to a UC attorney.