The University of Rochester's effort to reap billions of dollars in royalties from a new class of "super aspirin" ran into a dead end Monday.
Without explanation, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the school's request for a review of federal court rulings that dismissed its patent-infringement claims against the makers of painkillers known as cox-2 inhibitors.
The school committed more than $10 million in legal costs to defend the work of Dr. Donald Young, a professor of medicine and biochemistry who in 1990 earned a 17-year patent for pinpointing a cyclo-oxygenase enzyme that causes inflammation.
Pharmaceutical companies later co-developed lucrative cox-2 inhibitor drugs such as Celebrex, and the school hoped to recoup royalties and fees ranging from $3 billion to $30 billion.
In March 2003, however, a federal judge in Rochester decided that Young's discovery "did not blossom into a full-fledged complete invention." An appeals court in Washington that specializes in patent disputes upheld the ruling.