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ABI, Solexa, Illumina, PerkinElmer, Triton Technologies, Agilent, Affymetrix, Roche, Third Wave, Luminex, Thermo Fisher

ABI Files Patent Suit Against Solexa
 
Applera’s Applied Biosystems group has filed a patent-ownership lawsuit against Solexa, Solexa said late last week.
 
ABI filed the breach-of-contract complaint in the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, on Dec. 26. 
 
Solexa said the lawsuit disputes the ownership of several patents relating to methods for sequencing DNA using “successive rounds of oligonucleotide probe ligation," also called sequencing-by-ligation.
 
These patents were assigned in 1995 to Lynx Therapeutics, a former unit of ABI that spun off in 1992 and later became part of Solexa. Stephen Macevicz, the inventor of the technology, is named as a co-defendant in the suit.
 
Solexa said in a statement that its 1G Analyzer next-generation sequencing technology, which is based on sequencing-by-synthesis, is not covered under any of the patents at issue in the suit.
 
The company added that Lynx’s MPSS technology, which it is phasing out, did not use sequencing-by-ligation and that it has “no plans” to use any technologies covered by the patents at issue.
 
Solexa said it believes the suit is "not material to its current or future business," and also noted that ABI has not claimed patent infringement.
 

 
Illumina Passes Antitrust Hurdle to Acquire Solexa
 
Illumina said that it has received clearance under Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust regulations to continue with its proposed acquisition of Solexa.
 
The firm’s announced the proposed $600 million stock acquisition in November. Under the terms of the agreement, Solexa shareholders will receive Illumina common stock at $14 per share, and Illumina will invest $50 million in Solexa for newly issued Solexa shares.
 
Solexa and Illumina shareholders will vote on aspects of the acquisition on Jan. 26, 2007.
 

 
PerkinElmer Buys Thermal Analysis Instrument Line
 
PerkinElmer announced this week that it has bought the thermal-analysis product line from Triton Technologies, a British electronics company.
 
PerkinElmer said Triton's Dynamic Mechanical Analysis product line is used in the polymer, pharmaceutical, and food industries for research and quality control.
 
Robert Friel, PerkinElmer's president of Life and Analytical Sciences, said the DMA 8000 "is the type of novel, next-generation technology we are investing in" to enable customers to increase speed and quality in their research.
 
Financial terms of the acquisition were not provided.
 
The acquisition follows recent announcements by PerkinElmer that it would acquire Evotec Technologies and Euroscreen Products, which will greatly expand the firm’s offerings in the cell analysis field (see related article).
 

 
Agilent, Affymetrix Agree to Mediation in Patent Interference Dispute
 
Agilent Technologies and Affymetrix have agreed to mediate a dispute regarding a patent interference decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office, according to court documents filed recently.
 
In a filing with the US District Court for the Northern District of Northern California, attorneys from Affymetrix and Agilent agreed to hold an alternative dispute resolution session by Oct. 1, 2007.
 
The mediation will address a dispute that began in October, when Agilent requested the court to review a USPTO decision that found that an Affymetrix patent application does not interfere with an existing Agilent patent.
 
Agilent claimed that the inventors of Affy’s US Patent Application No. 10/619,224 filed claims "literally copying" the language of Agilent’s US Patent No. 6,513,968, entitled "Apparatus and method for mixing a film of fluid," which was assigned in February 2003.
 
After Affy filed its application with the USPTO, Agilent contested its claims, but the USPTO found that Affy's claims are indeed patentable, and proceeded to cancel several of Agilent’s claims from its '968 patent.
 
In its October motion, Agilent asked the court to reverse the USPTO’s decision that certain claims in Affy's patent application are patentable and also sought "other and further relief as the court sees just and proper.”
 
In a response, Affymetrix argued that Patent Application 10/619,224 was a continuation of a series of applications it had filed prior to Agilent’s patent and noted that the USPTO “determined that the earliest application to which Affymetrix was accorded benefit was filed more than three years before the earliest application to which Agilent was accorded benefit.”
 
Affy requested that Agilent’s case be dismissed with prejudice, that the USPTO uphold its cancellation of the claims in question, that the inventors on its application be declared the “first and true” inventors of the subject matter corresponding to the interference, as well as attorneys’ fees and other costs.
 

 
Affymetrix, Roche Amend GeneChip Licensing Deal
 
Affymetrix and Roche have amended an ongoing licensing agreement that gives Roche access to Affy’s GeneChip microarray technology, Affymetrix said in an SEC filing last week.
 
The amendment, disclosed on Dec. 22, 2006, releases Roche from upcoming license payments and instead offers Affy payments based on commercial milestones. Roche had previously agreed to begin paying installments in 2008.
 
Additionally, the original agreement was to last as long as 18 years but the new version enables Roche to terminate it at the end of 2010 or at the end of 2015.
 
The companies originally penned their agreement in 2003 under which Roche agreed to pay Affy $70 million in up-front plus license payments for access to the GeneChip technology.
 
Roche uses the Affy technology in genotyping, gene expression, and resequencing research to develop molecular diagnostics. 
 
Affymetrix would not disclose the specific sums involved in the new deal, and filed a secure SEC copy containing that information.
 

 
Third Wave Closes $14.9M Convertible Note Offering, Submits 510(k) for CF Test
 
Third Wave Technologies has pocketed $14.9 million after closing the sale of its previously announced zero-coupon convertible notes with an unnamed institutional investor, the company said recently.
 
Third Wave said it intends to use the cash infusion for general corporate expenses.
 
The 6-percent notes, which are convertible into roughly 2.5 million shares, will be due in 2011 and are priced at an initial rate of $6 apiece.
 
In a separate announcement this week, Third Wave said that it has submitted a 510(k) application with the US Food and Drug Administration for clearance of its InPlex Cystic Fibrosis Molecular Test.
 
The qualitative genotyping test is intended to provide information that could determine CF carrier status in adults. It also could be used as an aid in newborn screening and in confirmatory diagnostic testing in newborns and children, Third Wave said.
 

 
Luminex, Thermo Fisher Ink Molecular Dx Pact
 
Luminex said this week that Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Fisher Healthcare unit will work with the firm to develop new molecular diagnostic applications for Luminex’s xMAP technology.
 
Under terms of the agreement, Fisher gains access to the xMAP multiplexing technology in the US. Luminex expects the deal to provide it with access to a much broader customer base that is currently served by Fisher’s distribution network.
 
Further details of the agreement were not provided.

The Scan

Could Cost Billions

NBC News reports that the new Alzheimer's disease drug from Biogen could cost Medicare in the US billions of dollars.

Not Quite Sent

The Biden Administration likely won't meet its goal of sending 80 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.

DTC Regulation Proposals

A new report calls on UK policymakers to review direct-to-consumer genetic testing regulations, the Independent reports.

PNAS Papers on Mosquito MicroRNAs, Acute Kidney Injury, Trichothiodystrophy

In PNAS this week: microRNAs involved in Aedes aegypti reproduction, proximal tubule cell response to kidney injury, and more.