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Former City of Hope Inventor Files Suit to Collect Back Royalties

Written by on Thursday, August 21st, 2008 Print This Post Print This Post

A former City of Hope inventor has filed suit against his former employer to collect back royalties on technology that was the subject of a recent verdict for City of Hope against Genentech.

Robert Crea, the inventor at issue, filed suit in Los Angeles superior court in early August, following the resolution of the City of Hope’s dispute with Genentech.  The California Biotech Law Blog previously posted on this verdict, which was reached in April, 2008.

The Silicon Valley/ San Jose Business Journal reported on Crea’s suit against City of Hope as follows:

Crea worked in 1977 and 1978 as the lead synthetic chemist at the City of Hope DNA Chemistry Laboratory before moving on to Genentech, according to the lawsuit. . . .Crea is seeking approximately 5 percent of the royalties that went to City of Hope related to technology developed there, according to his attorney, Robert Yorio, a partner at Carr & Ferrell LLP, who is representing Crea. The Southern California medical center is collecting close to $5 million in damages and interest as a result of the suit.

“The City of Hope policy is a 15 percent (royalty) that is paid to inventors,” Yorio said. “And that 15 percentage would be shared. We are asking for his share.”

This case will be interesting to follow as it moves forward, given the fact that the suit seems to be based on the alleged failure by the City of Hope to fairly implement a royalty policy as opposed a breach of an existing written contract with the individual inventor.   I have not yet tracked down a copy of the complaint, but would be interested review the exact nature of the plaintiff’s allegations against City of Hope.

This case may very well serve as a warning for other institutions with similar royalty payment policies in place for their employees: perhaps such institutions need to take another look as to how these policies are dealt with upon an employee’s departure from the institution.  I doubt very many employers expect their former employees to sue them on such grounds after they have left the company for a new position elsewhere, but perhaps in today’s world where large verdicts on IP matters are commonplace,  they should be giving this issue further consideration.

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