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Agilent, Affymetrix Agree to Mediation in Patent Interference Dispute

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agilent Technologies and Affymetrix have agreed to mediate a dispute regarding a patent interference decision by the US Patent and Trademark Office, according to court documents filed last week.
In a filing with the US District Court for the Northern District of Northern California, attorneys from Affymetrix and Agilent agreed to hold an alternative dispute resolution session by Oct. 1, 2007.
The mediation will address a dispute that began in October, when Agilent requested the court to review a USPTO decision that found that an Affymetrix patent application does not interfere with an existing Agilent patent.
Agilent claimed that the inventors of Affy’s US Patent Application No. 10/619,224 filed claims "literally copying" the language of Agilent’s US Patent No. 6,513,968, entitled "Apparatus and method for mixing a film of fluid," which was assigned in February 2003.
After Affy filed its application with the USPTO, Agilent contested its claims, but the USPTO found that Affy's claims are indeed patentable, and proceeded to cancel several of Agilent’s claims from its '968 patent.
In its October motion, Agilent asked the court to reverse the USPTO’s decision that certain claims in Affy's patent application are patentable and also sought "other and further relief as the court sees just and proper.”
In a response, Affymetrix argued that Patent Application 10/619,224 was a continuation of a series of applications it had filed prior to Agilent’s patent and noted that the USPTO “determined that the earliest application to which Affymetrix was accorded benefit was filed more than three years before the earliest application to which Agilent was accorded benefit.”
Affy requested that Agilent’s case be dismissed with prejudice, that the USPTO uphold its cancellation of the claims in question, that the inventors on its application be declared the “first and true” inventors of the subject matter corresponding to the interference, as well as attorneys’ fees and other costs.

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