MD Anderson sues Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong over rights to Cancer Moonshot: 3 things to know

Houston-based University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is suing biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, over the ownership of the name "Cancer Moonshot."

Here are three things to know about the lawsuit, which was filed late October in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

1. MD Anderson has used the tagline "Cancer Moonshots" since August 2012, when it launched a program under that name aimed at speeding the conversion of scientific discoveries into cancer treatments. Along with the program, the institute launched a website,, and routinely publishes press releases and news information; holds events, seminars and press conferences; and mails an annual report to more than 1.5 million donors and prospects, according to the lawsuit. MD Anderson has trademarked the Cancer Moonshot name.

2. Dr. Soon-Shiong launched his own initiative under the name "Cancer MoonShot 2020" in early 2016. Shortly thereafter, Vice President Joe Biden also launched a National Cancer Moonshot, distinct from Dr. Soon-Shiong's project. The government was not named in MD Anderson's lawsuits, but Dr. Soon-Shiong and the companies he leads, NantWorks and its subsidiary NantHealth, are all named as defendants.Dr. Soon-Shiong's company allegedly applied to trademark Cancer MoonShot 2020 in January, according to the lawsuit.

3. MD Anderson is suing the defendants for alleged trademark infringement. The lawsuit alleges the defendants "willfully, intentionally, and/or knowingly infringed or otherwise violated" MD Anderson's trademark rights. It also alleges NantHealth's use of the phrase will likely cause confusion or mistake, and is thus a violation of trademark laws by false association. The institute seeks profits, damages, legal fees and the destruction of all marketing materials associated with Cancer MoonShot 2020.

Cancer MoonShot 2020 did not immediately respond to a request for comment. This story will be updated accordingly.


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