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iBio seeks $300M damage award against Fraunhofer Society in IP suit

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 29th, 2017

A longstanding legal battle centered on IP between the biotech company iBio and the Fraunhofer USA Center for Molecular Biotechnology (CMB) could end up costing the latter company over $300 million.

iBio recently tacked on a new lawsuit against the Fraunhofer Society, the largest applied research institution in Europe and CMB’s parent organization, alleging that the nonprofit’s executives conspired to defraud the biotech company and make off with its trade secrets. iBio valued the intellectual property, a method for producing drugs using plant life, at more than $100 million and is seeking to triple that number in damages.

Fraunhofer CMB is one of Delaware’s leading research organizations. A loss in this case could eliminate 100 high-paying science jobs and a roughly $20 million investment from the state government.

“Our goal is to bring this case to a full resolution that vindicates iBio’s rights in connection to this highly valuable technology,” says Reed Oslan, an attorney for iBio. “We’ve added the Fraunhofer Society because we believe it was their decisions and actions that violated our client’s trade secrets.”

The drug-making technology was developed by Fraunhofer CMB for iBio as part of a decade-long partnership. Under the agreement, Fraunhofer was to advance the technology, while iBio would own and license it to drug developers and other companies.

In 2013, however, iBio learned that its partner was allegedly working in secret with Canadian competitor PlantForm Corp. to commercialize the technology. The biotech company also accuses Fraunhofer CMB of entering a $1.8 million contract to develop Ebola antibodies for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, when iBio was pursuing a similar deal with the same organization.

“The purported ‘nonproft’ colossus operating under the banner ‘Fraunhofer’ surreptitiously and systematically perpetrated fraud on iBio,” reads a statement from the company. “Fraunhofer misappropriated iBio’s technology for its own gain, flagrantly refused to provide technology transfer to iBio, and continues to this day to publicly offer iBio’s technology to other parties.”

The Fraunhofer CMB has warned that the lawsuit could thwart its valuable impact on research and development in Delaware.

“If upheld, iBio’s claim would cause [Fraunhofer CMB] to default on government contracts involving national security, usurp rights owned by third parties and threaten [Fraunhofer’s] very existence,” the organization’s lawyer argued in court filings.

Source: Delaware Online

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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