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Federal Court Refuses to Overturn $115M Decision Against Illumina

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A federal court has denied a motion by Illumina to overturn an order that it pay $115.1 million to Syntrix Biosystems in a patent infringement lawsuit.

In the decision handed down on Monday, the US District Court for the Western District of Washington denied Illumina's motion for either judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial. Illumina filed its motion following the court's order in June that it pay Syntrix $115.1 million for infringing US Patent No. 6,951,682, held by Syntrix.

Judge Benjamin Settle declined to review the court's claim construction rulings "[a]s a threshold matter" in his ruling handed down on Monday, and further, would not add "certain limitations to the asserted claims of the patent," because he "is not persuaded that any errors exist in its construction of the claims."

He also rejected an argument by Illumina that that the '682 patent is invalid because it lacks adequate written description; the priority date of the patent is no earlier than Dec. 1, 1998; and the disclosed subject matter is anticipated.

In addition, he found a 6 percent royalty rate calculated by Syntrix for damages resulting from the infringement to be a "reasonable royalty."

Illumina had contested the 6 percent figure after a jury used it to determine damages awarded to Syntrix. Instead, Illumina argued that any damages should be awarded at a 3 percent rate, which was based on a licensing deal the company forged with Tufts University for technology underlying Illumina's BeadChip products, according to the court.

The court said on Monday that it determined the 6 percent rate to be reasonable after a Syntrix expert "explained the difference between a commercial license versus a license with a university, different bargaining positions when the technology is commercialized versus the situation where the licensee does not have a product on the market yet," and separate agreements that Illumina entered into with the Tufts researcher who developed the technology underlying BeadChip.

In denying Illumina's motion for a new trial as an alternative to judgment as a matter of law, Settle said that Syntrix "produced sufficient evidence to support the verdict and the jury instructions were consistent with the court's claim construction order."

An Illumina spokesperson told GenomeWeb Daily News that the company currently has no comment on the litigation.

Syntrix originally sued Illumina in late 2010. In March a jury ordered Illumina to pay $96 million in damages to Syntrix. In June, Settle increased the total award to Syntrix to $115.1 million after ordering Illumina to pay interest in the amount of about $7.3 million, supplement damages of $12.0 million, and other payment.