I mentioned enzyme engineering briefly the other day, and that, of course, is where companies like Codexis make their living. They made a big splash with Merck a few years ago, and are continuing to work with a variety of partners to industrialize tricky enzymatic transformations.
Well, now they’re accusing a former employee of Pfizer lifting their IP during a collaboration and starting a competing company. According to their press release, Codexis has determined that products from EnzymeWorks, founded by Junhua (Alex) Tao, are exact residue-for-residue copies of Codexis products. They also claim that Tao lifted a proprietary plasmid from Codexis that they’d been keeping as a trade secret.
We’ll see how this plays out. The identities of the enzymes and the plasmid are easy to determine, and the odds of perfect copies being obtained by other than theft are. . .very small indeed.