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Israeli professor files lawsuit against former colleague over shares from $11.9 billion sale of Kite Pharma


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 8th, 2017

A professor who participated in groundbreaking work at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel is suing a former colleague for excluding him from his share of a $11.9 billion sale associated with a drug they developed together.

Gideon Gross has sued Zelig Eshhar, his teacher at the time of the discovery, after the latter researcher launched the company Kite Pharma around their technology and sold the start-up – which is based on the promise of CAR-T cancer immunotherapies — to biotech giant Gilead Sciences. Eshhar claims he owes Gross nothing and that the lawsuit should be dropped.

Gross argues that the court should grant him 15% of the options or shares in Kite Pharma that Eshhar currently holds. Gross also alleges that he and lab technician Tova Waks transferred all their rights in the patents for the drug to Eshhar in exchange for future shares of the proceeds after the patents were commercialized — an agreement he says granted Eshhar 70% and his two colleagues 15% each. According to Gross, his former teacher violated his commitments after Kite Pharma became a blockbuster acquisition.

Eshhar, Gross, and Waks, a technician in Eshha’s laboratory from its first days and a partner in the initial development of the discovery, obtained the rights to the invention from Yeda R&D Company Ltd., the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute.

Eshhar asserts that Gross’ claim that he is entitled to 15% of Eshhar’s shares is “nothing more than wishful thinking on Gross’ part, with absolutely nothing to support it.”

Eshhar recently filed his initial response to the lawsuit but has yet to submit a detailed defense statement. He is asking that Gross’ claims be dismissed, citing that they were filed improperly.

Source: Globes

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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