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Court Overturns $52M Damage Award in Promega, Life Tech Case

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A federal judge has overturned a jury's decision to award Promega $52 million in damages in a patent infringement lawsuit the Madison, Wis.-based firm had filed against Life Technologies.

Judge Barbara Crabb of the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin in a decision yesterday left intact the previous ruling that Life Tech's sale of short tandem repeat products infringe Promega's US patents covering STR technology. The technology is used for genetic analysis applications including genetic research, cell line authentication, bone marrow transplantation monitoring, forensic training, and cancer analysis.

The court issued a summary judgment in November 2011, which confirmed Promega's STR patents, and the jury awarded the damages in February 2012.

Crabb ruled that Promega "had not sufficiently proven certain elements of its damages claim against Life Technologies," Promega said in a statement. However, the court did leave intact the ruling that Life Tech had infringed the patents and the jury's finding that the infringement was willful, which could potentially result in treble damages.

"The parties agree that plaintiff's evidence at trial relied on the assumption that all of the accused products defendants sold during the relevant time frame (between August 29, 2006 and the end of January 2012) were made in the United States, imported into the United States or made with a substantial portion of components from the United States, as required by [law]," Crabb wrote in her ruling yesterday. "Because plaintiff failed to submit admissible evidence at trial showing that all the sales at issue satisfied one or more of these requirements, I cannot sustain the verdict. In addition, plaintiff failed to show that defendants engaged in active inducement."

Promega CEO Bill Linton said that the court's decision to vacate the damages award doesn't impact the firm's intent to continue enforcing its STR patents. "While we are disappointed with the court's decision today, we are considering all available options to continue to pursue what we believe are valid claims against Life Technologies' actions in the STR market," he added in the firm's statement.

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