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eBioscience Files Suit Against Invitrogen over Nanocrystal Probe Patents

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Privately held eBioscience last week filed a suit against Invitrogen seeking a declaration that three patents exclusively licensed to the firm and two of its subsidiaries are invalid and that eBioscience is not infringing any claims in those patents.
San Diego-based eBioscience, which makes reagents, dyes, and other products used in cell imaging and analysis, filed the suit several months after one of its collaborators, Evident Technologies, was sued by Invitrogen for allegedly infringing the same three patents. The firm said in its filing that it “has anticipated and expects that it would and will be accused by [Invitrogen] of alleged patent infringement in the near future.”
Invitrogen has yet to file such a suit against eBioscience, whose board of directors includes James Glynn, a former CEO and board member of Invitrogen. Glynn retired from Invitrogen in the spring of 2003 but remained on Invitrogen’s board of directors until April 2006.
The three patents at issue in the case are US Patent Nos. 6,423,551; 6,699,723; and 6,927,069. All three patents cover nanocrystal probe technology for biological applications and were issued to the University of California, which exclusively licensed the patents to Invitrogen and its two subsidiaries, Quantum Dot and Molecular Probes.
A few months prior to Invitrogen filing suit against Evident Technologies, eBioscience and Evident inked a licensing deal covering certain technologies related to quantum dots. The technology is incorporated into eBioscience products, which the firm said “share technical similarities with products [Invitrogen is] accusing of infringement” in its case against Evident.
In addition to filing its suit against Invitrogen in the US District Court for the Southern District of California, eBioscience last week launched its line of eFluor Nanocrystals for cellular analysis.
eBioscience has asked the court to declare that it is not infringing any valid claims in the three patents as well as a declaration that the claims within the three patents are invalid. It also asked the court to enjoin Invitrogen and its subsidiaries from bringing any legal action against eBioscience for alleged infringement of the patents.
Invitrogen acquired Quantum Dot, which makes the QDot semiconductor nanocrystals for life science research applications, in November 2005. Two years earlier, it had acquired Molecular Probes for $325 million. Those purchases formed the base of its cell analysis research products, which are now a core focus for the firm.