The patents for the cancer drug Opdivo were granted to Honjo of Japan’s Kyoto University and Ono Pharmaceutical. Opdivo is used across the world to treat cancer by boosting the immune system.
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the United States filed a lawsuit in 2015, claiming that the researchers, Gordon Freeman and Clive Wood, should also be recognized as inventors of the treatment.
Last Friday’s ruling by the district court in Boston said Dana-Farber presented clear and convincing evidence that the two scientists are joint inventors. It said Honjo and the two scientists shared test data and published a joint study on the research.
Freeman said he is delighted that the court recognized the essential contribution that he and Wood made toward the inventions.
The ruling may affect the amount of the fees paid to the original patent holders.
Ono Pharmaceutical said in a statement that the company is likely to appeal the ruling.
Separately, Honjo is asking Ono Pharmaceutical to review the patent agreement between them. He says his payment is being kept unfairly low.