"ABL has dismissed its lawsuit against Dr. Shafer. According to ABL, it never intended to shut down or adversely impact the HIVdb. To further demonstrate its commitment to the HIV community at large, ABL clarifies that it will not assert its U.S. Patent Nos. 6,081,786 and 6,188,988 against any non-profit institution, or any hospital, researcher, or individual doctor that utilizes it in the treatment of HIV. Dr. Shafer remains committed to the reexamination of the ‘786 and ‘988 patents. ABL believes its issued patents will withstand this challenge and plans to continue to defend its intellectual property against unauthorized commercial use, subject to the limitations described above."
Patents ‘786 and ‘988 describe the “invention” of using computers to help physicians make treatment decisions. Both patents were continuations of single patent filed in 1998 by TherapyEdge, a spin-off of the North Carolina-based company Triangle Pharmaceuticals.
"Control of these patents was at the heart of our business strategy. We believe the patents will prove seminal to the diagnosis and treatment of most chronic diseases. The patents broadly cover the computer analysis of multiple databases which lead to a report meant to guide physicians towards the optimal therapy for a given patient. Historically, such reports were principally associated with the treatment of HIV, but we envision that eventually the diagnosis and treatment of most chronic diseases will fall under the claims of these patents as well. We intend to widely license the patents to diagnostic companies, diagnostic service providers and therapeutic manufacturers."
"Earlier this year, Stanford Provost John Etchemendy asked the university’s faculty Advisory Board to investigate an appeal brought to him by Professor Robert Shafer, a faculty member in the Department of Medicine. The Advisory Board concluded that that university made a mistake in not consulting with Professor Shafer before agreeing to a legal settlement involving the HIV database Web site created by Professor Shafer, an open and accessible resource used by clinicians and researchers worldwide studying treatments for HIV.
Provost Etchemendy agrees with the Advisory Board’s conclusion. The provost determined that the university committed a serious procedural error when it did not consult with Professor Shafer prior to entering into an agreement with Advanced Biological Laboratories. In 2007, ABL threatened the university with litigation over alleged patent infringement by the HIV Web site. Although in settling with ABL, it was the intent of the university to protect Professor Shafer’s valuable research and maintain broad access to the content of the Web site, it should not have done so without consulting and involving him in the process.
The HIV Drug Resistance Database was started by Professor Shafer in 1998 and contains data contributed by medical researchers around the world. Funded by the NIH, multiple pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, and Stanford, the database is used more than 100,00 times each month by clinicians and researchers–-representing more than 100 countries–-who are involved in HIV drug resistance testing and developing drugs to combat HIV.
Stanford University strongly supports the work done by Professor Shafer to develop the HIV database and affirms its ongoing value to the scientific community in diagnosing and treating HIV around the globe. The university wants to reassure scholars and scientists who have contributed content or provided financial support to the HIV database that Stanford endorses open access to the data. The HIV database represents the best of public service scholarship and research at the university, and as such, Provost Etchemendy will be providing further research funding in support of expansion of the database.
Provost Etchemendy has apologized for the error before the university’s Faculty Senate and has indicated that the university will establish a process to ensure that faculty members are consulted on legal settlements that directly impact their research. He has asked the Advisory Board to review university practices related to this issue and will recommend that Professor Shafer advise the Board on this issue."