GLEN ALLEN, Va. & WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Star Scientific Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. have settled their patent-infringement dispute over a way to reduce carcinogens in cigarettes, according to a Bloomberg report.
Financial terms were not disclosed in documents filed today in federal court in Greenbelt, Md., seeking dismissal of lawsuits. The companies said the agreement "is not an acknowledgment of liability of any party."
A federal appeals court last year left two Star patents intact while upholding a jury verdict that R.J. Reynolds, a unit of Reynolds American Inc., did not infringe them during the 2001 and 2002 tobacco-growing seasons. A separate Star lawsuit accused Reynolds of infringing the patents during later growing seasons.
Reynolds said in the filings that it reserves the right to rely on the non-infringement finding in any future legal actions.
Reynolds was asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the two Star patents. The justices had been scheduled to consider that bid at their private conference today. Instead, the two companies on September 21 submitted a joint request that the appeal be dismissed, and the request was granted.
Reynolds had argued in its appeal that the Star patents are not specific enough. The patents cover a curing process that prevents "bacterial activity" in tobacco leaves, resulting in the lowest levels of cancer-causing nitrosamines, according to Star.
Star said Reynolds used the technology without permission because the larger company was unable to achieve similar nitrosamines reductions on its own. Reynolds denied the claim.
Winston-Salem, N.C.-based R.J. Reynolds makes Camel, Winston and Salem brand cigarettes.
Glen Allen, Va.-based Star Scientific is a technology company promoting maintenance of a healthy metabolism, as well as to reduce the harm associated with the use of tobacco. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, Star Scientific has been engaged in the manufacturing, sale and marketing of nutraceutical dietary supplements and the development of other nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals. The company also has continued to pursue the development, implementation and licensing of the technology behind its proprietary StarCured tobacco curing process, which substantially prevents the formation of carcinogenic toxins present in tobacco and tobacco smoke, primarily the tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) and related low-TSNA dissolvable tobacco products.
The case is Star Scientific Inc. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland (Greenbelt). The Supreme Court case is R.J. Reynolds v. Star Scientific.