Mayhall Fondren Blaize

Business litigation over research mice settles in federal court

Louisiana is host to many different varieties of business litigation. In the world of rapidly evolving science and technology, business litigation disputes are noticeably more exotic and complex than many of the simple contractual conflicts of the past. Recently, for example, even lab mice have become the bitter center of a dispute between scientific researchers.

The litigation is taking place in a federal district court in another state. Jackson Laboratory filed the case last year in which it asked the court to order arbitration of a dispute over the sale of genetically modified research mice. The lab is a genomics center that alleged that the mice were a critical part of its business.

The Jackson Laboratory in Maine sued a Chinese research institute associated with Nanjing University. Jackson argued that its contract with Nanjing prohibited the Chinese entities from selling to third parties mice that are descendants of those purchased from Jackson. These are reportedly special mice in that they have gene mutations that are in common with human mutations.

In fact, Jackson alleges that it has sold its elite mice to 23,000 research labs in 52 countries, and that they have been involved in important discoveries relating to major diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer and heart disease. The lab reportedly makes millions in revenue from the sale of the mice. Recently, the Chinese entities agreed to a settlement in the federal court that will lead to arbitration over Jackson's allegations.

Jackson claims to insure the integrity and heritage of its mice, but it fears that sales to third parties by one of its customers could lead to uncertainty in research and place scientific finding in doubt. It claims that the business litigation is necessary because it must maintain control over the underlying genetic makeup of the mice sold to researchers. Based on the asserted number of 23,000 research labs that own and use the Jackson Lab's mice, it is likely that some of these special research critters have made their way to labs right here in Louisiana.

Source: courant.com, "Jackson Lab, Chinese University Settle Dispute Over Sale Of Mice", Stephen Singer, April 4, 2018

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