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In a reversal of fortunes, a federal judge overturned a jury verdict ordering Gilead Sciences (GILD) to pay $2.54 billion to Merck (MRK) for infringing a patent in order to develop a pair of blockbuster hepatitis C treatments.

In a 52-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Stark ruled late Friday that a Merck patent at issue was invalid, because the inventions did not meet a requirement for disclosing how to make and use the treatment it covered without undue experimentation.


The verdict, which was largest ever in a U.S. patent case, stemmed from a long-running dispute concerning the Sovaldi and Harvoni hepatitis C pills, which revolutionized treatment, helped spark a national debate over the cost of medicines, and quickly provided Gilead with billions of dollars in sales.

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