Aligos demands jury trial to settle Janssen theft allegations, files fraud counterclaims

Aligos Therapeutics has responded to Janssen Biopharma’s lawsuit that alleges intellectual theft, throwing back their own claims of unfair competition and promissory fraud, as well as demanding a jury trial to settle the matter.

In March, J&J’s Janssen unit filed a lawsuit (PDF) against the San Francisco-based biotech, claiming the company was created using stolen information and intellectual property.

Aligos, which aims to develop treatments for viral infections and liver disease, was cofounded in 2018 by Lawrence Blatt, Ph.D., and Leonid Beigelman, Ph.D.—who left Janssen to start the venture. Both individuals had started work at Janssen in 2014 after the J&J unit acquired Alios Biopharma, a biotech Blatt helmed as CEO and Beigelman served as chief scientific officer.     

Earlier this year, Janssen sued the two, along with the biotech that they created, asking for monetary damages, a permanent injunction banning the use of the allegedly stolen property and ownership of patent applications filed by Aligos.

“Blatt and Beigelman stole work related to at least four different research and development programs, reflecting years of effort and funding by Janssen,” the J&J unit alleged in the documents.  

Now Aligos has hit back, filing a response that throws its own allegations at the big pharma around unfair competition.

The biotech denies Janssen’s claims, arguing that the J&J unit has no rights to the inventions that Aligos’ employees argue were created while employed at Aligos. The biotech’s court documents point to decades of publicly available information, previous work experience, publications and patents by the co-founders at other companies that went toward building Aligos’ oligonucleotides-based hepatitis B virus portfolio.

The response also claims all work was performed by Aligos employees after leaving Janssen.

Another allegation the biotech has hurled back at Janssen is around "promissory fraud." Aligos claims that Janssen attempted to "lure" the two executives into working at the J&J unit after the Alios merger with promises of maintaining their autonomy, but it alleges that these promises were not kept.

“Those employees were under no obligation to assign their rights to Janssen, and they did not do so,” Aligos' documents read. “They did assign their rights to Aligos Therapeutics.”

Aligos is demanding a trial by jury to settle the matter.