Janssen Biotech, Inc. v. Celltrion Healthcare Co., Ltd. et al. (17-cv-11008).

Janssen Biotech brought this case asserting infringement of a patent related to the manufacture of Remicade®, a biologic medicine used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, plaque psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, and other disorders involving the immune response. Celltrion moved to dismiss, on the grounds that not all co-owners of the patent were joined as plaintiffs – the assignments from some of the inventors was to “the COMPANY,” which was defined elsewhere in the assignment agreement as Centocor, the predecessor to Janssen, and Johnson & Johnson and its existing and future subsidiaries, divisions and affiliates, none of whom were named as plaintiffs.  Judge Wolf, interpreting the agreement under New Jersey law, found that this language did not apply to the assignment itself.  The assignment clause required assignment of any invention made by the employee “during [his] employment with the COMPANY;” yet the inventors worked for only one company and did not work for Johnson & Johnson, which created ambiguity as to what was meant.  Looking to extrinsic evidence to understand what the parties to the contract intended, Judge Wolf determined that the assignment was intended to be only to Centocor, making Janssen the sole assignee.  Accordingly, the motion to dismiss was denied.

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