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Burroughs Wellcome Co. v. Barr Laboratories, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
40 F.3d 1223 (Fed. Cir. 1994)
Burroughs Wellcome Company (BWC) (plaintiff) and Barr Laboratories Incorporated (Barr) (defendant) were both pharmaceutical companies. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), looking for a way to handle the AIDS crisis in the United States, solicited the submission of compounds for testing against HIV. BWC submitted a compound called azidothymidine (AZT), which had been developed by five scientists, for testing at NIH. BWC simultaneously prepared a patent application for the compound. The NIH found AZT to be effective in combating AIDS through experimentation by two of its scientists. BWC sought approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Barr began producing AZT and applied for FDA approval also. BWC sued Barr in federal district court for patent infringement. Barr filed a counterclaim, alleging that researchers at the NIH were coinventors of the compound, meaning that BWC did not have rights in the patent. The district court ruled in favor of BWC. Barr appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Mayer, J.)
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