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Court Orders Illumina to Pay Syntrix $96M for Patent Infringement

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A federal court jury has ordered Illumina to pay $96 million in damages to Syntrix Biosystems in a patent infringement case.

According to the jury, Illumina infringed Syntrix's US Patent No. 6,951,682 through the sale of its BeadChip array products. The damage award is based on a royalty rate of 6 percent for BeadChip products that were sold by Illumina between 2005 and 2012.

The judge overseeing the case in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, however, ruled that Illumina's infringement wasn't willful and the firm didn't misappropriate trade secrets.

Syntrix brought the suit against Illumina in late 2010.

John Zebala, Syntrix's president, CEO, and founder, filed a US provisional patent in 1998 and a utility patent in 1999 that described the firm's so-called Syntrix technology, which is related to synthetic matrices and arrays. The firm entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Illumina in 2000 while the two firms engaged in discussions regarding a "potential business relationship," according to the suit. But weeks later, according to Syntrix, llumina filed a provisional patent that Syntrix said "contains figures and disclosures that closely resemble the trade secret Syntrix synthetic matrix and array technology" described in its discussions with Illumina.

The jury trial began earlier this month. Syntrix sought damages and an injunction that would enjoin Illumina from selling any products that are based on information provided to Illumina by Syntrix under the nondisclosure agreement, while Illumina sought a declaration of non-infringement and that the '682 patent is invalid and thus unenforceable, according to GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication BioArray News.

In a statement issued last night, Illumina President and CEO Jay Flatley said, "We strongly disagree with this verdict and plan to appeal the present finding of infringement. In the meantime, we will continue to sell the products that are the subject of this suit and no damages will be payable to Syntrix until all appropriate appeals have been taken, which may take a number of years."