Tulalip Tribes Sues Stanford University for Duplicating Patent of Opioid Treatment

On Friday, the Tulalip Tribal Federal Corporation filed a complaint in the Western District of Washington – Seattle against The Board Of Trustees Of The Leland Stanford Junior University (Stanford) for allegedly breaking an agreement in developing a cure for treating opioid addiction.

Over the past several years, the complaint said, Native Americans have had “the highest death rate from opioid overdose of any demographic group in the United States,” which has put a strain on the Tulalip Tribe (TTFC) and its people. The Tulalip said they decided to work towards creating medicine to treat opioid addiction in their community and around the world.

As a result, the complaint said, the TTFC “shared its confidential research information and proprietary data” with Stanford’s Behavioral and Functional Neuroscience Laboratory in order to develop a cure and patent it under TTFC’s name. According to the complaint, the team at Stanford made “promising and patentable results for treating opioid addiction with an isolated fraction of natural cannabinoid oil extract,” Stanford allegedly duplicated the fraction and applied for a provisional patent for a synthetic version.

The TTFC claimed that this new version is their intellectual property. The plaintiffs allegedly paid Stanford more than $3 million to produce this medicine. Stanford has refused to share any details of this medicine with the TTFC and has refused to remedy the situation, according to the complaint. In response, the TTFC has sued on the counts of breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction for “directly or indirectly making, using, importing, exporting, offering for sale, or selling anything related to TTFC’s confidential information,” disclosure of Stanford’s provisional patent application, declaratory and compensatory relief, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs and other relief.

The Tulalip Tribal Federal Corporation is represented by Lane Powell PC.