ImClone Systems Inc. shareholders on Wednesday elected billionaire Carl Icahn and two of his associates to its board, according to CNBC.

Shareholders hope Icahn can help the biotechnology company achieve stability following a series of blows that could hurt sales and limit its strategic options.

The election at the company's annual meeting held in Branchburg, New Jersey, of Icahn, who holds nearly 14 percent of ImClone's shares, and two associates, brings to four the number of board members connected to Icahn.

Representatives for ImClone could not immediately be reached to comment.

New York-based ImClone, which makes the cancer drug Erbitux, invited additional input from Icahn after it put itself up for sale earlier this year and failed to find a buyer.

Earlier this week the company said a court invalidated the company's ownership of a key patent related to Erbitux, which is approved to treat colorectal cancer and head and neck cancer.

The New York District Court credited the invention in the patent to three scientists represented by Yeda Research and Development, a decision which eliminates ImClone's exclusive rights to the patent. ImClone licensed its rights from drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis.

Within short order, Amgen Inc., which is expected to win approval shortly for a rival drug, panitumumab, announced it had agreed license terms with Yeda for rights to the patent.

That eliminates a potential weapon ImClone may have had to curtail Amgen's competitiveness.

ImClone had claimed that this patent would prevent Amgen from competing effectively with Erbitux in the bulk of its current market, said Geoffrey Porges, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, in a report.

The patent covers the use of antibodies designed to block a protein known as epidermal growth factor receptor when used in combination with chemotherapy.

Erbitux and panitumumab work in a similar fashion, but panitumumab, which will have the brand name Vectibix, has certain safety and convenience advantages, according to some analysts.

ImClone, whose founder Samuel Waksal was sentenced in 2003 for securities fraud, also needs to find a permanent chief executive following a period of management turnover following the scandal, which later drew in lifestyle guru Martha Stewart.

ImClone's shares were little changed at $29.16 in mid-morning trading on Nasdaq.