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GenOway Sues Cellectis Over Knock-in IP

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — GenOway has sued Cellectis for allegedly breaching a license agreement for recombinant gene-targeting technology by attempting to forge similar license deals with GenoWay's clients directly, GenOway said today.

The company said it has asked for "several million euros" in compensation, but did not provide further financial details of the suit.

GenOway said that although the initial agreement, signed in 2001, is not due for renewal until later this year, Cellectis, which acts as a licensee of the Institut Pasteur, has modified its sales strategy and has begun proposing license agreements to GenOway's clients directly.

Cellectis announced that it terminated the non-exclusive license "for certain uses of homologous recombination" on Jan. 5, and claimed that the termination was effective on Dec. 30, 2008. It also said that it would attempt to "obtain proper compensation" for damages it said it suffered by GenOway's use of the technology "outside the licensed field." It did not elaborate.

The technology allows GenOway's customers to use genetically modified animals in pharmaceutical research, target studies, and compound sifting.

GenOway said that the original license "was precisely intended to allow it to provide its clients with a safe and fast solution" where the intellectual property was "cleared up" for use by GenOway.

Lyon, France-based GenOway said that Cellectis has tried to terminate GenoWay's license before the end of its term, and to contest GenOway's rights to the technology.

GenOway also said it "contests firmly" Cellectis' stand.

GenOway also said that even though Cellectis' technology "remains relevant," the patents in question were filed in 1989 and will become part of the public domain in March 2010 in Europe and Japan, but not in the United States, and that several other technologies of gene replacement have been developed since this one.

Calls to Cellectis were not immediately returned.