AltaThera Pharmaceuticals Sues Competitor for Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

On Tuesday, AltaThera Pharmaceuticals LLC filed a complaint in the Northern District of Illinois against Hyloris Pharmaceuticals SA, Academic Pharmaceuticals Inc. and John C. Somberg, M.D alleging breach of contract, civil conspiracy and misappropriation of trade secrets. 

According to the partially redacted complaint, AltaThera is a hospital-focused pharmaceutical company dedicated to addressing unmet medical needs including developing innovative ways to repurpose existing drugs and administer treatments. The complaint further states that one such innovation is AltaThera’s method for administering Sotalol IV in a way that reduces a patient’s time spent in the hospital from three days to just one day. 

AltaThera states that it invested millions of dollars over several years to develop its Sotalol IV method and obtain Food and Drug Adminsitration (FDA) approval. AltaThera purports that throughout the development of the Sotalol IV method, it kept the method confidential as a trade secret while it worked to prepare confidential patent applications to protect its innovation.

The complaint states that AltaThera shared the confidential information and trade secrets with Dr. Somberg, a long time consultant of AltaThera and his consulting companies, Academic Pharmaceuticals Inc. (API) and Hyloris. AltaThera alleges that the defendants entered into an agreement to not disclose AltaThera’s confidential information and not to use it for their own business purposes. 

However, the complaint alleges that the defendants used the confidential information and trade secrets provided by AltaThera to bring a competing drug to market called Dofetilide IV. Further, the complaint states that by the time AltaThera became aware of the defendants misappropriation of its confidential information, they were already two years into their efforts to obtain patent protection and FDA approval for Dofetilide IV. 

AltaThera argues that the defendants wouldn’t have pursued or been in a position to pursue Dofetilide IV if they had not had access to and misappropriated AltaThera’s confidential information. The complaint notes that Dr. Somberg copied verbatim significant portions of a highly confidential patent application he helped prepare for AltaThera and confidential regulatory information. 

Accordingly, AltaThera filed the present complaint alleging violations of the Defend Trade Secrets Act and the Illinois Trade Secret Act, breach of contract, tortious interference, unjust enrichment, fraudulent concealment, breach of fiduciary duty and civil conspiracy. For relief, AltaThera seeks compensatory and consequential damages, disgorgement of profits, an order correcting inventorship for the defendant’s patent application for Dofetilide IV, a declaration declaring AltaThera owns the rights to the Sotalol IV and any patents that issue from it, along with attorney’s fees and costs.

AltaThera is represented by Sidley Austin LLP