As denizens of San Diego and Los Angeles await the pending takeover of their cities’ respective newspapers by wealthy L.A. physician Patrick Soon-Shiong, speculation is rampant regarding the future direction of local journalism. But those hoping for a significant infusion of cash into the papers by the pharmaceutical billionaire could be in for a disappointment, judging by a dispute in federal court over a losing patent battle by Soon-Shiong’s NantKewst, Inc., a drug-development outfit with a lab in San Diego.
As reported by Law.com February 28, NantKwest is fighting against having to pay a paltry $78,000 in legal fees to the United States Patent and Trademark Office after federal courts upheld the denial of the firm’s patent claim for treating cancer with “natural killer cells.” The patent office had rejected the application on the grounds of “obviousness,” according to court records. Notes Law.com, “Section 145 of the Patent Act provides that the patent applicant must pay ‘all of the expenses’ of the district court proceeding regardless of outcome.” NantKest maintains the law is overly vague and will soon present its case to the full federal circuit court of appeals in Washington.
Meanwhile, a local anonymous ex-employee of NantWorks, Soon-Shiong’s umbrella organization that also has a San Diego branch, posted a mixed review on Glassdoor.com. “I worked at NantWorks full-time (More than a year),” said the report. “Pros: Most of the colleagues were great. Cons: Entire office was laid off unexpectedly.”
Responded NantWorks: “We know this is a difficult time for all of us and especially you. Our intent as an organization is to be as transparent as possible. Management evaluates the portfolio companies and determines which products and services will continue to drive our mission and vision of delivering next-generation therapeutic treatments and solutions to patients. Although you were not directly employed by NantWorks, we hope that you will keep us in mind as a future employer.”