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Elan: Biogen Lawyer Can't Read! Judge: "Right"!

The big faceoff between Elan and Biogen isn't set until Aug. 31, when federal Judge Deborah Batts will hear arguments over whether Elan's financing deal with Johnson & Johnson triggers a breach of contract that will give Biogen all rights to Tysabri free of charge.

But in the runup, there's already been a charmingly brusque exchange between the judge and Biogen -- an exchange which suggests that Biogen's lawyers can't read. In her Aug. 7 order, Judge Deborah Batts wrote this (click to enlarge images):

Judicial handwriting is often in the same league as physician handwriting, but in this case that looks pretty clearly like: "2 copies of all motion papers and relevant documents to be delivered by hand to chambers on or before Friday, 8/21/09 at 3:00PM."

Not to Biogen. A note to the judge from Elan's lawyers the same day states that Biogen and Elan immediately went into an "amicable disagreement" as to what Batts' order meant. Elan thinks it meant deliver all motion papers on Aug. 21 so that the court can be ready for battle on Aug. 31; Biogen read it to mean "come to the August 31 conference prepared to discuss an expedited briefing schedule."

Judge Batts responded in the margins of Elan's memo by simply writing "right" next to Elan's version of events and "wrong" next to Biogen's:

Batts' notes don't pass any opinions on Biogen's legal arguments, of course. But with judges' desks literally buried in paperwork, it's never wise to add to it unneccessarily.

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