12th Jan 2024

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Thomas Roe KC and Katharine Bailey (instructed by JMW Solicitors LLP) for the Claimant.


Mr Roger ter Haar QC :

1. In this action the Claimant (“Innovate”) claims damages from the Defendant (“UoP”) arising out of a Research Agreement between those parties. The claim is highly unusual turning as it does upon an academic research paper published in a well-respected scientific journal which paper is alleged to have been infected by errors which were said to be at least careless, but for reasons which are important to limitation of liability clauses in the contract, are also said to have been the product of dishonesty.

The Claimant
 

2. Innovate was incorporated on 9 September 2014. Since February 2017 Innovate has been owned by:

(1)   Simon Cohen, a podiatrist with a history of working for pharmaceutical companies and a full-time employee of Innovate;

(2)   Dr Michael James Stuart, a Doctor and the sole director of Innovate; and

(3)   Jan Cohen, a lawyer and Mr Simon Cohen’s brother. Where in this judgment I refer to “Mr Cohen”, I am referring to Mr Simon Cohen rather than Mr Jan Cohen.

3. Innovate holds the patent to a formulation of liquid aspirin known as IP1867B or Glioprin. The formulation is made up of 2.5% aspirin, 1% saccharin and 96.5% triacetin, which is a commonly used excipient in cosmetic and pharmaceutical formulations as a solvent. In this judgment, IP1867B is referred to as “the Drug”.

4. Innovate was incorporated by the shareholders as the vehicle through which they would seek to develop and commercially exploit the Drug. I set out in somewhat more detail below the evidence, which I accept, as to the development of the Drug.

The University and the Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence

5. The University of Portsmouth traces its roots back to the 19th century. In 2010 UoP established a “Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence” led by Professor Geoffrey Pilkington, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Neuro-oncology. By the time of the events with which this Court is concerned, Dr Richard Hill was the Group Leader of the Novel Therapeutics Unit at the Centre.

6. The Centre was funded, in part, by, and derived its name from, a charity called Brain Tumour Research (“BTR”). BTR was co-founded by Sue Farrington-Smith MBE when she lost her niece to brain cancer. Professor Pilkington’s evidence was that in the early 2000s Ms Farrington-Smith reached out to him as an individual with a high profile in the area of brain cancer and they developed a close working relationship. He encouraged her and the charity she founded to establish a number of research centres, dedicated to finding treatment for brain tumours. In 2010 the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence was the first of these centres to receive an endowment. Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and the University of Plymouth were subsequently granted endowments and have BTR Centres of Excellence.

7. Professor Pilkington’s evidence was that BTR aspired to provide each Centre of Excellence with funding of £1 million a year, but during the time that he was Head of the Centre at Portsmouth the UoP did not receive this level of funding: BTR’s ability to fund the Centres was dependent on its fundraising and was inherently uncertain. The UoP team applied for grant funding from various bodies and charities to support the Centre’s work and supplement the BTR endowment. Some of the Centre’s costs were funded by the UoP. A small amount of funding also came from industry collaborations.

Continue reading this Judgment here.


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