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Contracts disputes over research mice are going to arbitration

Oregon is a state where research facilities engage in a wide variety of scientific inquiries. Many medical research projects traditionally involve the use of mice as subjects. According to the plaintiff in a federal district court case, only certain very special mice should be used so that the research breakthroughs will continue to maintain their integrity and reliability. The case is about contracts between research labs and the alleged attempt by one party to breach provisions that preclude the sale of the purchased mice to third parties.

The Jackson Laboratory sued a university and related research entities that purchased some of Jackson's mice years earlier. Jackson alleged that the purchaser had attempted to breach their contract and sell some of the descendants of the original mice to third parties. The lawsuit asked that arbitration provided for in the contract be ordered against the purchaser.

The case recently settled when the defendant, Nanjing University of China and its related entities, agreed to submit to arbitration in the United States. Jackson Lab, located in Maine, filed the suit in Sept. 2017 against the Chinese entities. Jackson alleged that it has sold thousands of mice to 23,000 research labs in 52 countries over the years. It alleges that the mice have a special genetic disposition that makes them comparable to humans. That feature of course makes these mice suitable for important medical and scientific research.

Jackson Lab claims that the mice have been instrumental in discoveries and breakthroughs regarding cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. It alleges that the sale to third parties will likely lead to a corruption of the genetic purity of the original mice, which could put in doubt future research findings. With the agreement to submit the dispute over the mouse-related contracts to arbitration, the Jackson Lab expressed elation and relief. Meanwhile, the publicity surrounding this business litigation is likely to anoint these special research animals with a celebrity status throughout the country, including here in Oregon.

Source:, "Jackson Lab, Chinese University Settle Dispute Over Sale Of Mice", Stephen Singer, April 4, 2018

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