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Appeals Court Affirms Stratagene Victory in Invitrogen Patent Suit

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 - A federal appeals court has handed Stratagene a victory in an ongoing patent dispute sparked by Invitrogen, Stratagene said on Thursday.

The court's judgment, which affirms an earlier decision by a Maryland District Court, allows Stratagene to continue marketing its RNase H minus reverse transcriptase enzyme.
According to Stratagene, Invitrogen filed suit against it on June 29, 2000, saying that its StrataScript RT RNase product infringed on Invitrogen's patent No. 6,063,608.


Then, on Feb. 13 last year, Invitrogen asked the Maryland court to order Stratagene to remove the StrataScript product from the market. Fourth months later, the court denied the request. 

"The appellate Court's decision ensures Stratagene's ability to continue its rightful place in the RT market," the company said in a brief statement.

Oral arguments before the Federal Circuit were held on Feb. 8, according to Stratagene. 


Invitrogen officials were not immediately available for comment.


The victory for La Jolla, Calif.-based Stratagene is the second one of its kind in as many months. In a final judgment handed down on Jan. 31, the US District Court for the Western District of Texas said that Stratagene did not infringe on Invitrogen patents related to its competent cell products.


According to Stratagene, the dispute began when Invitrogen sued Stratagene for allegedly infringing one of its patents, No. 4,981,797. Then, in August last year, Invitrogen voluntarily withdrew its allegations, made against Stratagene's electrocompetent cell and certain chemically competent cell products, Stratagene said.


Invitrogen's position further eroded that month when the court narrowed its interpretation of the '797 patent, Stratagene said. Following the court's recent decision, Invitrogen withdrew its remaining patent-infringement allegations.


"We still feel strongly that our patent holds ... and we decided to continue to fight in appeals court," Mary Cassoni, an Invitrogen spokesperson, said in early February in response to the '797 patent suit.


"This particular lawsuit doesn't have a lot of risk for us," said Cassoni. "If we lost, we wouldn't be collecting royalties from Stratagene that we believe we're due. This still doesn't affect our business."


Invitrogen has foreign patents connected with the competent cell technology that is may use to persue additional litigation, added Cassoni. 


Competent cells, at the heart of the dispute, contain cell walls that have been manipulated to let them absorb various DNA in order to facilitate cloning projects. Stratagene creates various types of competent cell strains.

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