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Bio-Rad Files Suit Against Eppendorf for Alleged Infringement of Microplate IP

This story originally appeared in Biocommerce Week, a newsletter that has been discontinued.
 
Bio-Rad Laboratories last week filed a lawsuit in a US District Court in Texas alleging that Eppendorf North America is infringing Bio-Rad’s US Patent No. 6,340,589, which covers the firm’s thin-well microplate.
 
Eppendorf is the third company Bio-Rad has sued this year over the ‘589 patent, which covers the plate and methods for manufacturing the product. Earlier this year, it sued 4titude Ltd. and Phenix Research Products alleging that those firms infringed the same patent.
 
According to the suit, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Marshall Division, Eppendorf “has infringed and is continuing to infringe” the ‘589 patent through the manufacture and sale of its twin.tec products. Eppendorf sells the twin.tec plates in 96-well and 384-well formats for performing PCR and cycle sequencing experiments.
 
Bio-Rad claims in its suit that Eppendorf has willfully infringed the ‘589 patent and that Eppendorf will continue to infringe the patent if the court does not order an injunction barring the company from further sales of the products.
 
“Unless Defendant is enjoined by this court from continuing their infringement of the ‘589 patent, Bio-Rad will suffer additional irreparable harm and impairment of the value of its patent rights,” Bio-Rad argued. “Thus, Bio-Rad is entitled to a preliminary and permanent injunction against further infringement.”
 
In addition to the injunction, Bio-Rad asked the court to order Eppendorf to pay triple damages for its alleged willful infringement, pay Bio-Rad’s attorneys’ fees, and prejudgment interest.
 
Officials from Eppendorf were unavailable to respond to questions by press time. Bio-Rad officials said they could not comment on ongoing litigation.
 
The patent at the center of the case was issued to MJ Research in January 2002. MJ was acquired by Bio-Rad in August 2004 for $32 million in cash after filing for bankruptcy earlier that year.
 
Answer Due in Stratagene Case
 
In addition to these suits, Bio-Rad was sued last November by Stratagene, which is now owned by Agilent Technologies, for allegedly infringing Stratagene’s thermal cycler patents.
 
After the judge overseeing the case had granted a motion asking for an extension in the time allowed to respond to the complaint, Bio-Rad’s response was due July 11. As of press time, the firm’s response had not been publicly posted by the court.
 
The suit, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of California, claims that Bio-Rad and its MJ Research and MJ Geneworks units have infringed four of the firm’s US patents: Nos. 6,054,263; 5,779,981; 5,288,647; and 5,395,591.
 
The ‘263 and ‘981 patents are both entitled “Thermal Cycler Including a Temperature Gradient Block,” and were issued on April 25, 2000, and July 14, 1998, respectively. According to Stratagene’s complaint, Bio-Rad and MJ have infringed and continue to infringe those patents by selling gradient thermal cycler products including iCycler, DNA Engine, DNA Engine Dyad, DNA Engine Dyad Disciple, and DNA Engine Tetrad.
 
The ‘647 patent is entitled “Method of Irradiating Biological Specimens” and was issued on Feb. 22, 1994, while the ‘591 patent is entitled “Apparatus of Irradiating Biological Specimens” and was issued on March 7, 1995. Stratagene alleges that Bio-Rad’s products for irradiating biological samples, including but not limited to its GS Gene Linker UV, infringe those two patents.
 
Stratagene said in its complaint that Bio-Rad has willfully infringed all four patents, and therefore should be ordered to pay triple damages. The firm has demanded a jury trial and asked the court to permanently enjoin Bio-Rad from selling products that it believes infringe its patents. Stratagene also is seeking unspecified damages, prejudgment and post-judgment interest on damages, costs of the suit, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

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