The Tekmira and Alnylam dispute is a classical David versus Goliath encounter. By my standards, Protiva/Tekmira clearly deserves credit for developing the industry’s most advanced systemic siRNA delivery technology, SNALP. Alnylam, however, is trying to take all of that away from a company that it knows it stands a good chance at silencing with sheer money and influence.
It therefore struck a nerve when I read ‘Opposition 4’ in the ongoing VPS02-related patent interference filed on November 30 by Protiva/Tekmira (Interference No. 105792). It reveals that Alnylam’s counsel, Rothwell Figg*, went to the City of Hope, the employer of a key technical witness by Tekmira (John Rossi), to gently urge them that John Rossi should perhaps consider to withdraw his testimony (from Opposition 4):
‘For example, Material Fact 6, drafted by Alnylam’s counsel, clearly references “the meeting between representatives of City of
And this is apparently what Dr. Rossi was informed of happened in those meeting(s):
‘[Dr. Rossi] Well, I was also informed that there was evidence that was evolved that would be used against my disclosure or my declaration in terms of the credibility of me as a -- basically as a scientist. In other words, I would be contradicting my own words, whether they be – I didn’t know what the source was of where my contradiction was going to be brought up, but it was in something that I had published or in publications or in patent applications or patents. That was all I was told. And I felt that it couldn’t be the case. I felt very strongly.
And in fact, Mr. Huntington asked me if I wasn’t worried about the fact that I could actually invalidate my own patents. I said no, not because I don’t want those to be invalidated, but because I didn’t feel that anything I had said or done would contradict those.’
It reads as if Alnylam’s counsel suggested to the employer of the witness that in following his conscience as a scientist, the employee would hurt the financial interest of his employer (City of
This episode though is just the latest in the game of politics Alnylam has been playing with Tekmira. It is high time for it to stop it and instead focus on the science. Otherwise, it risks wasting the opportunities that come with the ongoing clinical validation of Tekmira’s SNALP technology to which it is (still) a licensee.
* As I wrote in a blog entry in October, Rothwell Figg seem to have been replaced as Alnylam's counsel in the Interference, to be replaced by Wilmer, Cutler et al. which are also responsible for the larger SNALP Misappropriation case.
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