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Illumina Ordered to Pay Syntrix $115.1M for Infringing Patent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A federal judge has ordered Illumina to pay $115.1 million to Syntrix Biosystems for infringing a patent held by Syntrix Biosystems.

In his decision handed down on Wednesday, Judge Benjamin Settle, US District Court Western District of Washington, ordered Illumina to pay $96 million in damages that a verdict originally slapped on Illumina in March after finding the San Diego company guilty of infringing US Patent No. 6,951,682 held by Syntrix.

Additionally, Settle ordered Illumina to pay prejudgment interest in the amount of about $7.3 million, supplemental damages of $12.0 million, and ongoing royalty at 8 percent per infringing sale.

Illumina declined to comment on Settle's decision, but a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail to GenomeWeb Daily News that "it intends to file a post-trial motion asking the trial court to enter a judgment in its favor as a matter of law, or alternatively, to grant a new trial."

The case centers on technology developed by Auburn, Wash.-based Syntrix for which it filed a provisional patent for in late 1998 and a utility patent in 1999, according to court documents.

In January 2000, Syntrix entered into a nondisclosure agreement with Illumina for a "potential business relationship" between the two firms. Illumina agreed not to use any of Syntrix's trade secret information, Syntrix said in its complaint.

About three weeks after the signing of the agreement, though, Illumina filed its own provisional patent containing "figures and disclosures that closely resemble the trade secret Syntrix synthetic matrix and array technology" that it shared with Illumina as part of the two firms' nondisclosure agreement, Syntrix said.

In late 2010, Syntrix sued Illumina alleging some of its products including BeadChip products infringe the '682 patent. The patent, titled "Porous coatings bearing ligand arrays and use thereof," describes "[a]rticles comprising substantially uniform porous coatings," which may be used to develop ligand arrays for diagnostic and drug discovery assays, according to the patent abstract.

Three months ago, the federal jury found Illumina guilty of infringing the '682 patent through the sale and marketing of the BeadChip products.

"Our legal action was a hard-fought battle every step of the way, as we insisted that the rights of the individual inventor be fully protected," Syntrix Founder and President John Zebala, said in a statement. "It should be clear to Illumina and others that the willful disregard of valid intellectual property is unacceptable in the United States."

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