In choosing to ally themselves to develop TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand for cancer, Genentech Inc. and Immunex Corp. have spread their risk and assured that they will not end up in a patent battle over the project.

Indeed, the deal looks more like a pharma-to-pharma partnership in which the companies are leveraging one of many opportunities, compared to a traditional biotech deal wherein one side has only intellectual property or limited R&D capabilities and the other has the development infrastructure.