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The appeal overturned a 2002 decision by a federal district court in
Specifically, the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit found that "substantially all" of the chemically competent cell products sold by Stratagene infringe Invitrogen's patent.
The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings, Invitrogen said in a statement today.
"We plan to vigorously pursue all available remedies for Stratagene's infringement of our intellectual property as this case proceeds in the District Court," John Cottingham, senior vice president and general counsel for Invitrogen, said in a statement today.
Officials for Stratagene were not immediately available for comment.
Invitrogen sued Stratagene in March 2001 for allegedly infringing a patent that covers a process to treat E. Coli cells to cause them to be more effective at absorbing foreign DNA, thereby becoming "competent."
Invitrogen claims it sells more than 30 different competent cell products and the act of buying any of them provides an Invitrogen customer a "limited license" under the patent, No. 4,981,797, to use them for research purposes. From the outset, Invitrogen has claimed that Stratagene's competent cell products and their customers' use of them are not licensed under the '797 patent.
Five months later, in August, Invitrogen voluntarily withdrew its allegations, made against Stratagene's electrocompetent cell and certain chemically competent cell products, Stratagene said.
Invitrogen's position further eroded that month when the District Court narrowed its interpretation of the '797 patent, Stratagene said at the time. Following the recent decision, Invitrogen withdrew its remaining patent-infringement allegations.
"We still feel strongly that our patent holds ... and we decided to continue to fight in appeals court," Mary Cassoni, an Invitrogen spokesperson, said at the time.
"This particular lawsuit doesn't have a lot of risk for us," said Cassoni. "If we lost, we wouldn't be collecting royalties from Stratagene that we believe we're due. This still doesn't affect our business."
In January 2002, the US District Court for the Western District of Texas said Stratagene does not infringe the '797 patent.