Wednesday, May 19, 1999

Genentech Confirms Growth Hormone Research Performed Independently; Seeburg Testimony is False

Detailed lab notebooks chronicle independent work by Genentech scientist Goeddel; Seeburg has no documentation

South San Francisco, Calif. -- May 19, 1999 --

Genentech and the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) are in the final days of a patent infringement case that has been in the courts for nine years. UCSF claims that Genentech infringes its patent. Genentech adamantly denies this allegation.

Genentech made a decision to take this case to court because the evidence clearly shows that our successful development of human growth hormone is based on independent, proprietary research conducted at Genentech that does not infringe UCSF's patent. There are multiple laboratory notebooks that chronicle in detail the work done by Genentech scientist Dr. David Goeddel and his colleagues some 20 years ago that led to Genentech's development of human growth hormone. The notebooks contain actual photographs of the growth hormone DNA successfully prepared by Genentech's researchers. These photographs show a unique "fingerprint" that identifies the DNA as Genentech's.

To Genentech's complete surprise, Peter Seeburg, a former Genentech employee who is one of the inventors of UCSF's patent, now asserts that he perjured himself in his prior sworn testimony regarding Genentech's independent development of growth hormone. In his most recent testimony in this case, Seeburg said that Genentech made use of certain UCSF DNA during its development of growth hormone. Seeburg's new story is based on nothing but his word. In contrast to the thorough documentation kept by the other Genentech researchers, Seeburg has no documentation and therefore no proof of his allegations. And, as Seeburg has agreed, Genentech's lab notebooks show consistently positive results and no failures in the experiments conducted by Genentech at that time. What is clear is that Seeburg stands to make a considerable amount of money, approximately 10 percent of what UCSF receives if the verdict is in their favor.

It is important to remember that this case is not about the false story told by Seeburg. This case is about patent infringement under the doctrine of equivalents. In fact, UCSF has admitted that Genentech does not literally infringe its patent. The jury will be asked to decide if the expression plasmid DNA used by Genentech to manufacture growth hormone is equivalent to what is claimed in UCSF's patent. Genentech has demonstrated clearly that our growth hormone plasmid DNA is not equivalent because, among other reasons, Genentech's scientists succeeded in making growth hormone, which is a result never achieved by UCSF or described in its patent, and Genentech was awarded numerous patents of its own based on that success. In addition, the judge will decide on Genentech's claim that UCSF defrauded the patent office in obtaining their patent. UCSF failed to include in their patent application a discussion of previous work that was performed relating to human growth hormone.

We are outraged by the statements and actions of UCSF in this case that attempt to impugn the legitimate and highly skilled efforts of the Genentech researchers whose independent efforts and hard work almost twenty years ago resulted in our successful development of human growth hormone. We will continue to press our case in the courts and, regardless of the outcome, we will continue to support the pioneering research that has taken place at Genentech.

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