San Diego-based Histogen, a four-year-old biomedical startup, claimed a key victory today after a federal judge issued a series of findings in a patent infringement case filed in 2009 against the company by a cross-town rival, Carlsbad, CA-based SkinMedica.
Before the suit was filed, Histogen had plans to develop products derived from skin cells grown under simulated embryonic conditions. SkinMedica, a venture-backed company founded in the mid-1990s, provides a variety of cosmetic and skin care products made of a “patented blend of growth factors, soluble collagen, antioxidants and matrix proteins” derived from laboratory-grown skin cells.
In a May 24 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino addressed the meaning of more than a dozen disputed terms used in the companies’ patent filings. The judge agreed in many cases with the way SkinMedica had defined its claims, but Sammartino ruled that Histogen’s use of “microcarrier beads” to grow fibroblast cells was outside the scope of SkinMedica’s patent claims. In its statement, Histogen calls that a key finding that is central to its patent claims, and predicts the ruling “should lead to the trial court’s dismissal of the case.” A spokeswoman for SkinMedica declined to comment, saying it was the company’s policy to not comment about ongoing litigation.
The Histogen statement also quotes Gail Naughton, Histogen’s founding chairwoman and CEO, as saying the court’s order supports Histogen’s assertion that its methods and products are unique. “It will allow us to raise the additional capital to continue the development of our lead therapeutic products, and will re-start partnership discussions, all of which have been slowed by this litigation since January 2009.”
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