For the second time within a year’s span, Baylor College of Medicine has supported faculty as they faced lawsuits that have threatened to stop the flow of research discovery. In the latest case, a Texas federal judge dismissed a patent infringement lawsuit against Baylor College of Medicine and one of its research faculty members in a suit involving immuno-cancer therapies.
“At the direction of our president and CEO, Dr. Paul Klotman, our office supports the freedom of our faculty to engage in their ground-breaking and impactful research,” said Robert F. Corrigan, Jr., Baylor senior vice president and general counsel.
The most recent case arose from cancer therapy work done by Baylor researcher Dr. William K. Decker, an associate professor of pathology and immunology at Baylor and a member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Decker began that work while at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. MD Anderson obtained patents on that technology and licensed them to a local Houston company called Gensetix, which was the plaintiff in this lawsuit. Decker moved from MD Anderson to Baylor, where he continued his research. However, Gensetix sued Baylor, Decker and Baylor’s commercial partner, attempting to stop Decker from continuing his ground-breaking research.
A clinical trial was put on hold when the trial site became aware of the lawsuit, thus slowing introduction of this therapy as a tool for treatment of cancer patients. Since the patents Gensetix asserted against Baylor and Decker are owned by the University of Texas system, UT was a necessary party to the litigation. However, UT objected to having its patents asserted against the Baylor parties. The federal judge ruled that because UT is a sovereign entity, it cannot be bound to litigation in which it does not wish to participate. Gensetix also tried to keep the case alive by claiming that UT was not a necessary party to the lawsuit, but the judge agreed with Baylor that UT was necessary and dismissed the case.
Earlier this year, Baylor’s legal team supported a former faculty member who was sued for defamation as a result of an editorial he wrote years before while employed by Baylor (read the full article here). In that case, the Baylor doctor questioned the results of well-known research from a doctor in China.
Baylor is represented in this current lawsuit by Baker Botts, LLP. Baylor is providing legal assistance to Decker through the law firm of Fogler Brar.
“We stand behind our faculty when others try to thwart their work using the courts,” said Dr. Patrick Turley, associate general counsel.
Gensetix has appealed the decision, and Baylor will continue to defend this assault.
-By Graciela Gutierrez