The Korea Herald


Samsung BioLogics wins patent suit against Lonza

Korean CDO industry free to pursue cell culture production

By Lim Jeong-yeo

Published : Oct. 1, 2019 - 16:57

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Samsung BioLogics said Tuesday it has won a lawsuit against Switzerland-based Lonza that is critical for manufacturing antibody agents in South Korea.

Following the court ruling, domestic contract development pharmaceutical firms will be able to employ a more efficient method for cell culture production to boost their performance, a company official said.

Cell culture is the process by which cells are grown under controlled conditions, generally outside their natural environment.

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

The Korean firm had filed a suit in July 2017 as it sought to expand its business from contract manufacturing to contract development. It can now not only manufacture drugs of client firms, but also produce laboratory development-phase ingredients under contract.

The Korean firm took issue with Lonza’s patent in Korea for a certain protein that expedites culture and proliferation of cell lines -- used for antibody production -- contending it poses an unfair entry barrier for emerging local companies.

After a 2-year hearing, the Korean Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of Samsung BioLogics on Aug. 29.

Lonza’s technology, called “mammalian expression vector (carrier) comprising the MCMV promoter and first intron of HCMV major immediate early Gene,” was not different from previously known technologies and an average technician can easily replicate it, the KIPO said.

This patent has been practically withdrawn in Europe, is not recognized in the US and was denied permission in Japan. Only emerging biotech nations such as Korea, India and China recognize the patent.

“This ruling not only helps Samsung BioLogics but will also pave the way for other emerging local biotech firms,” the company said, “We hope this benefits the growth of the overall bio industry here.”

Samsung BioLogics as of September has a total of 34 CDO deals with international pharma firms including Eutilex, GI Innovation and ImmuneOncia.

Lonza, which registered the related patent here in 2013, can appeal the case at a higher court.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (