Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that the Board of Appeal for the European Patent Office (EPO) has upheld the Opposition Division’s original decision (announced Sept. 11, 2008) to revoke Genentech and Biogen Idec’s European Patent 1176981, generally directed to the use of an anti-CD20 antibody for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The revocation of the patent claims as originally granted is now final.
On Aug. 8, 2006, Trubion filed an opposition to European Patent 1176981 raising objections as to its validity. Subsequent to the submission of Trubion’s opposition, several other parties filed oppositions to the Genentech patent, including MedImmune Inc., Genmab A/S, Centocor Inc., Glaxo Group Ltd., Merck Serono S.A, and Wyeth (now Pfizer). On Sept. 11, 2008, Trubion announced that the Opposition Division of the EPO had revoked the European patent in its entirety. On Feb. 19, 2009, Genentech and Biogen Idec appealed the decision. In addition to its opposition, Glaxo Group Ltd. filed an action with the United Kingdom High Court to revoke the U.K. counterpart of European Patent 1176981, and on May 19, 2008, the U.K. counterpart was revoked by court order.
The Board of Appeal, presiding in oral proceedings on June 1, 2010, upheld the original revocation ruling by the Opposition Division citing that the patent as granted did not meet the requirements for patentability. No further appeals can be made with regard to the revoked claims, but Genentech and Biogen Idec can pursue a claim limited to the use of rituximab in combination with methotrexate to treat RA. The Board of Appeal sent this claim down to the Opposition Division to assess patentability.
“Today’s decision by the Board of Appeal is important not only for Trubion but also for patients who rely on companies like ours to innovate and develop more effective, more convenient and safer therapies,” said Kathleen Deeley, senior vice president and general counsel at Trubion.