It appears the sparks between Roche and bluebirdbio in federal court in Delaware have died down.
Bluebird and Roche’s Spark Therapeutics filed a motion this week to dismiss a trademark infringement claim over the former’s “Be the Spark” sickle cell campaign. That’s all the information they’re sharing so far, as a Bluebird spokesperson said. Terminal news details of the settlement agreement remain confidential.
The case stems from a lawsuit filed last May by Spark, which alleged that bluebird’s use of the word “spark” in its sickle cell awareness campaign infringed on Spark’s trademarks, referred to in court documents as Spark Marks.
Bluebird’s “Be The Spark” campaign website (which is still online as of Thursday morning) features a black background with images of sparks that highlight photos of sickle cell patients. “Let’s go spark change in sickle cell disease,” read bold letters.
The website continues: “Whether you are living with sickle cell disease, a parent, caregiver, ally, or have a sickle cell trait, you have the power to transform lives and spark new conversations. You can continue to drive change by staying proactive in sickle cell care and planning for the future.
In its complaint, Spark argued that Bluebird’s campaign was “intentionally designed to take advantage of goodwill on Spark’s behalf and to harm Spark.”
Bluebird set up the spark campaign ahead of the expected approval of its gene therapy lovo-cel, which was slapped with a partial clinical hold in December. Last April, after laying off about 30% of its workforce, the company said it planned to seek approval for sickle cell disease in the first quarter of next year.
While Spark’s investigational gene therapies focus on other types of blood disorders – including two programs on hemophilia A and a program in partnership with Pfizer on hemophilia B – the company has argued that sickle cell disease is studied and treated by the same doctors and scientists who work in the field of hemophilia. , and that bluebird had been “well aware” of the marks for years.
In a response, bluebird argued that its use of the word “spark” was in good faith, “solely to describe the products or services of” bluebird.
The case came to a head in January when a judge denied Spark’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would prohibit Bluebird’s use of the Spark Marks in its campaign, finding there was a significant difference between the use by Spark of the word “spark as a proper noun” and bluebird’s use of the common word “spark” to describe its purposes.
Spark did not respond to a request for comment at press time.