Biotechnology company slammed with $881 million synthetic cannabinoid lawsuit

Biotechnology company slammed with $881 million synthetic cannabinoid lawsuit

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

In March 2019, a $300 million joint business partnership was struck between Amyris and LAVVAN for the development of synthetic cannabinoids. The research, collaboration and license agreement has taken an unexpected turn year just one year and six months later, with California-based Amyris facing an $881 million lawsuit. 

Filed by its New York-based partner LAVVAN, the court is now entering the realms of a billion-dollar battle. Patent infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets are two issues being drawn to the attention of judges, who must now decide whether or not LAVVAN can obtain the damages it seeks as part of the synthetic cannabinoid lawsuit.

Based on the details of a news release, Amyris allegedly stole confidential information outlining a synthetic cannabinoid composition that would enable the company to mimic cannabis-derived compounds like cannabigerol (CBG) for financial gain.

“Rather than fulfill its obligations to LAVVAN under the agreement, Amyris has decided to transform from partner to direct competitor, in flagrant violation of LAVVAN’s rights,” reads an official statement from LAVVAN Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Neil Closner following the synthetic cannabinoid lawsuit being files.

According to Closner’s company, Amyris went against the terms of their business deal; leaving LAVVAN with no other option but to “vigorously pursue all legal avenues available to protect its rights.”

About the synthetic cannabinoid lawsuit

The synthetic cannabinoid lawsuit against Amyris was filed by LAVVAN in the United States District Court for New York’s Southern District under docket number 20-cv-7386. The initial payment for the agreement was made in May 2019. 

“LAVVAN owns exclusive rights to the intellectual property which Amyris is wrongfully using in connection with their development, testing and production of biosynthetic cannabinoids, including CBG,” added Closner. “Amyris has falsely claimed that our agreement permits them to engage in these activities, but it plainly does not. We are very disappointed that we have had to take this step, but through a history of erratic and egregious conduct, Amyris has demonstrated a willful intention to undermine the agreement.”

In addition to the damages being sought by LAVVAN for Amyris’s misappropriation of trade secrets and patent infringement, the company is also fighting for a permanent injunction against Amyris. The primary goal of this injunction is to prevent Amyris from illegally obtaining any more of LAVVAN’s trade secrets and intellectual property in the future.

“LAVVAN assembled a world class team and has been eager to lead the multi-billion-dollar biosynthetic cannabinoid market. But rather than fulfill its obligations to LAVVAN under the Agreement, Amyris has decided to transform from partner to direct competitor, in flagrant violation of LAVVAN’s rights,” Closner continued.

Biotechnology company is “disappointed” about LAVVAN’s synthetic cannabinoid lawsuit 

According to Amyris CEO John Melo, who published a statement on Thursday, September 10, his company is sorely “disappointed” that Lavvan has progressed to contend the case in court.

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

While LAVVAN is a privately held company, Amyris can be found trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “AMRS“.