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In New Suit, MIT, E8 Claim Navigenics' Purchase of Affy's CLIA Lab Infringes Genotyping Patent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MIT spinout E8 Pharmaceuticals have filed a lawsuit against Navigenics that alleges the consumer genomics firm is infringing a genotyping patent that was issued to MIT and licensed to E8.

The suit is the second that MIT and E8 have filed regarding US Patent No. 6,703,228, "Methods and products related to genotyping and DNA analysis," which was issued in 2004 and covers the use of SNPs to perform high-throughput genome scans.

Last July, MIT and E8 sued Affymetrix in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, claiming that Affy is infringing the '228 patent through the "use, manufacture, and sale of GeneChip products and services … as well as Affymetrix’s inducement and contribution to its customers’ use of the pioneering technology claimed in the '228 patent."

The new suit, which was filed yesterday in the same US District Court, claims that Navigenics "has directly infringed the '228 patent by providing, selling and offering to sell, on a nationwide basis, genetic counseling services that use certain GeneChip products manufactured by Affymetrix," including, but not limited to, the company's 6.0 Array and associated reagents, "in the patented methods claimed in the '228 patent."

Specifically, the suit notes that because Navigenics earlier this year purchased Affy's clinical testing services business, the firm "has taken over infringing activities that were previously performed by Affymetrix and has continued to provide, sell and offer to sell services that directly infringe the '228 patent."

MIT and E8 are asking the court to enter judgment that Navigenics has willfully infringed the '228 patent and that the damages therefore be three times the amount assessed, as well as "an ongoing royalty sufficient to compensate adequately for Navigenics’s ongoing infringement or … a permanent injunction prohibiting Navigenics from continued unlicensed infringement."

Despite some initial news reports that claimed that the suit is seeking damages of $75 million, an attorney for the plaintiffs told GenomeWeb Daily News that no monetary damages have been specified.

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