SCOTUS ends Merck-Gilead $2.54B patent war

Jan. 19, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up Merck & Co.'s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that overturned a $2.54 billion jury verdict it won against rival Gilead Sciences for patent infringement, bringing the multiyear court battle to a close.

In 2013, Merck’s Idenix Pharmaceuticals accused Gilead of infringing its patent on a family of compounds found effective against the hepatitis C virus. In 2016, a federal court sided with Idenix, awarding the drugmaker $2.54 billion for Gilead’s infringement with its blockbuster drugs, Sovaldi and Harvoni.

It was the largest patent-infringement verdict in U.S. history.

But in 2019, the Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit invalidated the patent after determining that its claims on the family of compounds were overly broad. In a final effort to get Gilead to pay out the billion dollar verdict, Merck appealed to the Supreme Court, who rejected the bid.

Read the Reuters coverage