Synthetic cannabinoid partnership devolves into $881 million lawsuit

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(This story has been updated with comments from Amyris.)

A cannabis research and development deal hailed just last March as a $300 million partnership has morphed into a nearly $1 billion court battle.

New York-based Lavvan filed an $881 million suit against its partner, California-headquartered Amyris, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and patent infringement.

According to a news release, Lavvan specifically accused the company of stealing secrets to synthetic cannabinoids such as CBG.

The two companies entered into a research, collaboration and license agreement in March 2019, but Lavvan contends in its lawsuit that Amyris broke the terms of the deal and said it had no other recourse but to file suit.

“Rather than fulfill its obligations to Lavvan under the agreement, Amyris has decided to transform from partner to direct competitor, in flagrant violation of Lavvan’s rights,” CEO Neil Closner said in the release.

In a statement released Thursday morning, Amyris CEO John Melo said the company was “disappointed” that Lavvan had chosen to take the disagreement to court.

“Amyris has not breached the … agreement with Lavvan, and we will continue to operate in accordance with its terms,” Melo said.

“We will pursue our legal rights to the fullest extent possible, including a vigorous defense against any assertions made by Lavvan.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

Amyris trades on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AMRS. Lavvan is a privately held company.