Arnold & Porter Wins Dismissal of Biotech Distribution Dispute

November 1, 2013

A New York federal judge recently dismissed the remainder of a lawsuit accusing Amersham PLC of violating a distribution agreement with Enzo Biochem Inc. for DNA testing technology and unfair competition, saying all the claims are time-barred or without merit.

In ending the decade-old dispute, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Sullivan granted Arnold & Porter LLP client Amersham summary judgment on Enzo's claims of breach of contract, tortious interference and unfair competition. The judge in September 2012 had granted Amersham summary judgment as to Enzo's patent infringement claims.

The suit stemmed from Amersham's alleged violations of a distributorship agreement it reached with Enzo in 1995. The agreement allowed Amersham to market and distribute certain products covered by Enzo's patents relating to the labeling, hybridizing and detection of nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA.

A few years later, however, Amersham acquired a company called Biological Detection Systems and began distributing cyanine labeled nucleotide, or CyDye, products in its own name. In addition, Amersham started acquiring CyDye products from another company, which had a separate distribution agreement with Enzo.

Enzo and Amersham entered negotiations to potentially expand the list of products covered under their agreement, but discussions broke down.

Enzo's breach of contract claim fails because its distributorship agreement with Amersham unambiguously covered a specific set of products that did not include any of the contested items, Judge Sullivan wrote. In emphasizing Amersham's consistent good faith efforts to do business with Enzo, the judge rejected Enzo's argument that the disputed agreement encompassed the contested products.

The firm's legal team handling the litigation was led by Matthew Wolf and included Jennifer Sklenar, Brian Martinez, and Kristan Lansbery. The case is Enzo Biochem Inc. et al. v. Amersham PLC et al., case No. 1:02-cv-08448, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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