Axon Instruments last week became the second company to reach an out-of-court settlement in a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Oxford Gene Technology, the company created in 1995 to license and manage the patents of microarray pioneer Edwin Southern of Oxford University.
“It was an amicable settlement,” said Trent Basarsky, director of intellectual property and licensing for Axon Instruments, which is based in Melbourne, Australia, and has its US headquarters in Union City, Calif.
Under terms of the settlement, Axon will place explanatory labeling on its genomic products, as well as its website. Financial details of the settlement were not disclosed.
In May, Genomic Solutions, a subsidiary of Harvard Bioscience of Holliston, Mass., announced that it had settled with Oxford Gene Technology and would pay an undisclosed “nominal amount” as well as display notices on any genomic-related products that it sells.
The settlements are part of what is expected to be a typically long legal process following the December filing by OGT of two patent infringement lawsuits in the US District Court in Wilmington, Del.
OGT’s lawyers filed one suit against Nanogen, and a second against a wide net of microarray-related manufacturers including: Genomic Solutions of Ann Arbor, Mich.; Axon; Mergen of San Leandro, Calif.; BD Biosciences Clontech of Palo Alto, Calif.; PerkinElmer of Wellesley, Mass.; and BioDiscovery of Marina Del Rey, Calif.
Oxford Gene Technology has refused repeated requests for comment.
According to court documents obtained by BioArray News, OGT’s suit filed against Nanogen is headed to a mediation conference on Aug. 8.
Mediation is a voluntary and non-binding court-run process that is less formal than arbitration but with the same goal of working out a settlement or agreement. The same documents list a counterclaim filed by Mergen.
Axon Instruments sought, and received, no less than nine extensions of the time it had to answer a complaint served on Jan. 3. Axon finally answered the complaint on May 6. Basarsky attributed the delay to the time-zone conflicts between the company’s headquarters in Australia and that of OGT in Oxford, UK.
Financially, the settlement will not have a material affect on Axon’s business, Basarsky said. “We consider it quite positive as it provides clarity for Axon and our customers,” he said. “It is our position that we are not infringing and that we did not infringe in the past.”
Basarsky declined comment on the text of the labeling.
This page on the Axon website (http://www.axon.com/mr_Privacy_Legal.html) has the following text:
Axon is not licensed under any patents owned by Oxford Gene Technology Limited (“OGT”), covering oligonucleotide arrays and methods of using them to analyse polynucleotides.
The purchase of Axon's products does not convey any license under any of OGT's patent rights, including any right to make or use oligonucleotide arrays under OGT's patents.
Customers may use Axon's products to analyse oligonucleotide arrays according to OGT's patented methods if those arrays have either been purchased from OGT's licensed suppliers, or have been made by the customer under a license from OGT.
Please contact OGT to enquire about a license under OGT's patents at [email protected].
Similar text follows from the Genomic Solutions site:
Oligonucleotide Arrays. Genomic Solutions Inc is not licensed under any patents owned by Oxford Gene Technology Limited (“OGT”).
A license to OGT patents may be necessary to manufacture or use certain oligonucleotide arrays.
To enquire about a license to OGT's oligonucleotide array patents, please contact [email protected]