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Pavel Kapysh / Shutterstock.com
11 September 2020AmericasRory O'Neill

Amyris facing $881m lawsuit over claims it broke contract

Cannabinoid maker Lavvan has filed a $881 million trade secrets lawsuit against pharmaceutical company Amyris.

The complaint marks a bitter end to a business partnership which formed only last March, when the two companies signed a deal to develop chemicals found in the cannabis plant.

According to Lavvan, the Research, Collaboration and Licence (RCL) agreement entitled it to earn up to $300 million in milestone payments, while the two companies would share profits from the cannabinoid sales.

But Lavvan now says that Amyris only entered into the deal to gain access to its IP and boost an ailing stock price. In its complaint, Lavvan said that Amyris had failed to meet any of its contractual milestone targets, and was illegally developing cannabinoid yeast-strains on its own.

Lavvan claims that the IP for these cannabinoids are its exclusive property under the terms of the RCL, and said it was entitled to “no less than $881 million” in damages.

“Amyris’s flagrant violations of the fundamental terms of its agreement now extend to the infringement of patents over which Lavvan holds exclusive licences, as well as the appropriation of Lavvan’s trade secrets,” the complaint said.

The Lavvan complaint also hit out at Amyris CEO John Melo, who helped negotiate the deal: “This behaviour is emblematic of Amyris’s apparent corporate ethos under the ‘leadership’ of John Melo—do whatever it takes to boost the stock price today, even if that means trouble down the road.”

Amyris has rejected Lavvan’s claims, insisting that the RCL allows it to independently develop cannabinoids in certain “excluded markets”.

In response to the suit, Melo said the company was “disappointed that Lavvan has chosen the public domain to articulate its position”.

“Amyris has not breached the RCL agreement with Lavvan and we will continue to operate in accordance with its terms. We will pursue our legal rights to the fullest extent possible, including a vigorous defense against any assertions made by Lavvan,” Melo said.

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More on this story

Americas
10 July 2019   US authorities are seeking the extradition of a Chinese researcher from Switzerland for his part in a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
Big Pharma
13 August 2019   Allergan has filed a motion asking for its “trade secrets” to be removed from evidence in a dispute over its wrinkle treatment, Botox.
Plant Varieties
27 July 2021   A New York federal court has denied biotechnology company Amyris’ bid for arbitration in an $881 million trade secrets and patent infringement dispute with cannabis firm Lavvan.

More on this story

Americas
10 July 2019   US authorities are seeking the extradition of a Chinese researcher from Switzerland for his part in a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
Big Pharma
13 August 2019   Allergan has filed a motion asking for its “trade secrets” to be removed from evidence in a dispute over its wrinkle treatment, Botox.
Plant Varieties
27 July 2021   A New York federal court has denied biotechnology company Amyris’ bid for arbitration in an $881 million trade secrets and patent infringement dispute with cannabis firm Lavvan.

More on this story

Americas
10 July 2019   US authorities are seeking the extradition of a Chinese researcher from Switzerland for his part in a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
Big Pharma
13 August 2019   Allergan has filed a motion asking for its “trade secrets” to be removed from evidence in a dispute over its wrinkle treatment, Botox.
Plant Varieties
27 July 2021   A New York federal court has denied biotechnology company Amyris’ bid for arbitration in an $881 million trade secrets and patent infringement dispute with cannabis firm Lavvan.