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Most Texas residents would never think of committing perjury (lying under oath) in court, considering the possible penalties -- which could include jail time. However, there are numerous cases each year across the country in which someone does just that. Recently, a patent law case between Merck and Gilead -- two pharmaceutical companies -- was reopened due to possible perjury by a Merck scientist.

The jury had originally found that Gilead had infringed on a Merck patent when it developed one of its pharmaceutical products. Gilead was ordered to pay $200 million in royalties to Merck based on the testimony and evidence presented to the jury during the trial. Recently, it was discovered that one of the key witnesses for Merck's case lied to the jury.

The scientist originally testified that the patent in question was the result of work that he did. It now appears that he did not do the original work, but only further developed the work (and patent) of an existing company called Pharmasset, which was purchased by Gilead. If it turns out that this is true, then Gilead will not owe a royalty to Merck since it already owned the patent used to develop its drugs. There is even speculation that Merck would owe a royalty payment to Gilead.

Missing out on a $200 million royalty payment might not be a big deal for Merck, but not having to make that payment could mean something to Gilead -- just as it would be a number of companies here in Texas. It could take some time before the matter is sorted out by the court. However, at least this patent law case is getting another look in light of the fact that the jury might not have been given the truth. 

Source: seekingalpha.com, "The Gilead-Merck Patent Case Takes A Surprising Turn", Jonathan Weber, May 2, 2016

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