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Suit Claims Patent Denied Because of Plagiarism by Ropes & Gray Partner

Posted Mar 25, 2010 8:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A lawsuit filed by a top genetics research laboratory claims one of its patent applications was denied because a partner at Ropes & Gray lifted language from a patent obtained by a rival scientist.

The February lawsuit by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory targets the work of former partner Matthew Vincent, the New York Law Journal reports. Ropes & Gray fired Vincent last year after alleging he secretly owned a patent database company that billed the firm and its clients more than $730,000 for its work, the story says.

The suit (PDF filed by the New York Law Journal) was filed in federal court in Long Island. It seeks up to $82.5 million in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages.

According to the New York Law Journal account, the patent sought was for a method allowing researchers to selectively turn off genes. Ropes & Gray’s motion to dismiss (PDF filed by the New York Law Journal) says the patent was denied because it was based on the work of other scientists, and not because of the firm’s legal work, the story says.

The firm told Cold Spring Harbor in a 2008 letter that copying text in patent applications is a common and accepted practice, the NYLJ says.

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