The University of Minnesota announced on October 5, 1999, that Glaxo Wellcome, Inc. has agreed to pay the University royalties on the company's worldwide sales of Ziagen, an antiviral drug used to treat AIDS. The agreement settles a lawsuit brought by the University in October 1998 in which it claimed that Ziagen is among a series of antiviral compounds first patented in the 1980s by University College of Pharmacy Professor Robert Vince and subsequently licensed to Glaxo.
The Minneapolis law firm of Faegre & Benson, led by intellectual property litigator Ken Liebman, represented the University in this litigation.
"After a year of intense litigation, we're pleased that we have been able to achieve a highly successful settlement," Liebman said. "We have protected the University's patent rights and negotiated an arrangement that will result in many millions of dollars in annual royalties to the University."
The settlement creates the most lucrative licensing agreement ever established for a public university. The University estimated that, based on current sales estimates of Ziagen, the total royalties from the settlement could exceed $300 million.
Liebman is co-chair of the intellectual property practice group at Faegre & Benson. The group, which includes a dozen registered patent attorneys, is one of the largest in the Upper Midwest and has built a national reputation for its litigation team. The core team of lawyers working on the litigation for the University included Felicia Boyd, John French, David Gross, and Julie Knox Chosy.