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PCR US court awards ABI, Roche more damages in MJ case

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A US court has ruled that MJ Research and two of its founders must pay Applied Biosystems and Roche Molecular Systems an additional $15.6 million in damages for infringing several PCR-related patents, according to ABI.

The US District Court in New Haven, Conn., increased damages awarded to ABI and Roche in their PCR patent-infringement suit against MJ Research and company founders, brothers Michael and John Finney, to approximately $35.4 million, plus attorneys’ fees. A year ago, a court jury had awarded the companies $19.8 million in damages.

The judge also dismissed all of MJ Research’s antitrust counterclaims against ABI and Roche. ABI has filed for an injunction against further infringement by MJ Research, which was acquired by Bio-Rad Laboratories last summer after MJ declared bankruptcy in March.

Bio-Rad said in August that it had acquired MJ Research for $32 million in cash “and the assumption of certain liabilities of those companies, including liabilities related to certain patent infringement litigation to which MJ Research is a party, plus a cash earn-out based on the outcome of such litigation.”

Ron Hutton, Bio-Rad’s treasurer, says that the company plans to appeal the verdict, but would not comment on when or how this would happen. In addition, Bio-Rad continues to negotiate with ABI, he says. Last year, the company set aside $50 million in a contingency fund for the suit, according to Hutton. Asked if Bio-Rad would be able to sell PCR instrumentation in the future once the litigation is over, he said “it certainly is our intention to be able to do so.”

Applera, ABI’s parent, and Roche originally filed the suit in 1998. MJ Research counterclaimed that ABI licensed and enforced its patents through anticompetitive conduct.

— Julia Karow

 

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