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Despite Verdict, Stratagene Still Free to Sell Competent-Cell Products -- for the Moment

NEW YORK, Oct. 13 (GenomeWeb News) - Stratagene is free to sell its competent-cell products until a District Court addresses the suit between it and Invitrogen again, according to an Invitrogen official.


As GenomeWeb News  reported this morning, Invitrogen said that a USappeals court ruled in its favor in a 4-year-old patent-infringement suit against Stratagene. The appeal overturned a 2002 decision by a federal district court in Texasand ruled that Stratagene infringes a patent involving a process for developing competent cell products.


The ruling that "substantially all" of the chemically competent cell products sold by Stratagene infringe Invitrogen's patent means that the suit will be remanded to the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, which will resolve remaining issues, such as possible damages injunctions, and any of Stratagene's remaining defenses.


"They also will address some of the invalidity defenses Stratagene had raised, and found that, based on the defenses, that our patent was valid," Alan Hammond, chief intellectual-property counsel of Invitrogen, told GenomeWeb News.

"We've asked for damages and injunctions in the district court," said Hammond. He estimated that the District Court would be likely to address the suit within three to six months. When the court would resolve the matter is less clear, he said.


According to Hammond, along with documents Stratagene filed with US Securities and Exchange Commission, Invitrogen originally sued Stratagene over the competent-cell patent in March, 2001. A November, 2001, summary judgment by the US District Court for the Western District of Texas initially found no infringement of Invitrogen's competent-cell patent No. 4,981,797, a decision that was reversed by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in May, 2003.


After that point, the case was sent back to the District Court, which found Invitrogen's '797 patent invalid in January, 2004. The current finding by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, triggered by an Invitrogen appeal, holds that Stratagene indeed infringed Invitrogen's '797 patent.


"The appeals court has made a final hearing on [the lawsuit], and unless they try to have some sort of re-hearing, it will go back to the District Court," said Hammond. Otherwise, the issue of whether infringement took place has been resolved, he said.

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