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Thermo Finnigan European Patent on Ion Trap Mass Spec Ruled Invalid

NEW YORK, May 21 – The European Patent Office has revoked a Thermo Finnigan patent that covered ion trap mass spectrometry, competitor Bruker Daltonics said Monday in a statement.

Thermo Finnigan had sued Bruker in three separate courts in Europe on the basis of the patent, European Patent 0 202 943. But last week, after hearing several witnesses, the patent office in Munich ruled that Thermo Finnigan’s patent was not enforceable because “it lacked novelty over both the written prior art and two separate prior public uses at Bell Labs,” according to the statement.

Thermo Finnigan of San Jose, Calif., could not be reached for comment.  

For the past several years, the two companies have been battling each other over competing ion trap patents, in court and in patent offices. Most recently, in late April, a United States District Court in Massachusetts found that Bruker had not infringed on a Thermo Finnigan patent.

Earlier that month, a German court in D sseldorf ruled that Thermo Finnigan’s ion trap mass spectrometers infringed on a Bruker Daltonics patent. As a result, Thermo Finnigan introduced three modified versions of its ion trap mass spec for the German market.

In 1998, Thermo Finnigan sued Bruker over the US version of European Patent ‘943, and lost the suit after a judge ruled the patent invalid.

Bruker is currently suing Thermo Finnigan for anti-trust violations in the US District Court in Boston.  
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