WASHINGTON (AP) -- Abbott Laboratories said a federal court of appeals has overturned a $1.67 billion judgment against the company related to patents on its best-selling drug Humira, which were challenged by rival Johnson & Johnson.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that J&J did not provide sufficient written evidence of its claim to the first biotech drug to treat arthritis and other immune disorders. The judgment overturns a June 2009 ruling in favor of J&J's biotech unit Centocor.
"Centocor's argument that an inventor need not physically make an invention to claim it misses the mark," a panel of three circuit judges concluded.
Centocor President Rob Bazemore said the company was "disappointed by the decision," and is considering an appeal.
"We are considering whether to ask for reconsideration by the panel or by the court of appeals as a whole," he said in a statement.
Humira posted global sales of $6.5 billion last year, and has long been Abbott's best-selling product. It is approved to treat several serious immune system disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.
J&J markets the rival treatments Simponi and Remicade, which are also injectable biotech drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
The New Brunswick, N.J.-based company claimed that Abbott had infringed a patent on a genetically engineered antibody that blocks the action of a type of immune system cell called tumor necrosis factor, or TNF. TNF is one of the cytokines, the "messengers" of the immune system, and stimulates inflammation, a key problem in immune system disorders.
But the judges were not persuaded by J&J's claim to the technology, citing an earlier drug patent decision: "A 'mere wish or plan' for obtaining the claimed invention is not adequate to written description."