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Applera Withdraws Its Opposition to Affy Patents in Europe

NEW YORK, March 7 (GenomeWeb News) - Applied Biosystems parent Applera last week withdrew its opposition to an effort by Affymetrix to enforce a patent the European Patent Office revoked in its entirety one year ago, according to an EPO database.


The patent in question, "Methods using nucleic acid hybridization patterns on a matrix of oligonucleotides" (EP0834576), was initially granted to Affymetrix on Nov. 28, 2001, and published in the European Register the following month.


The patent was revoked last year, however, after Applera, CombiMatrix, Abbott Laboratories, PamGene, and others successfully opposed it through the EPO's opposition division.


Affy appealed the EPO's decision in July 2005, after which Applera and other opponents continued to oppose Affy's rights to enforce the '576 patent.


But according to online EPO records, Applera withdrew its opposition to the '576 patent last week, and also withdrew its opposition to three other Affy patents last month.


Applera was the only party opposing "Method of forming arrays of polymers" (EP0972564), but other parties will continue to oppose "Identification of nucleic acids in samples," (EP0834575) and "Expression monitoring by hybridization to high density oligonucleotide arrays" (EP0853679), as well as the '576 patent, according to the database.


In December, ABI announced that it had licensed several of Affymetrix's microarray patents, but the companies have not disclosed the terms of the licensing agreement. 


The patent attorney representing Applera in the case declined to comment.