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Appeals Court Upholds Rejection of New England Biolabs Suit Against Enzymatics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A Massachusetts appeals court last month upheld a previous court decision not to rule on an intellectual property-theft lawsuit brought by New England Biolabs against Enzymatics and three former NEB employees.

In mid-2011, NEB filed the lawsuit, charging that Enzymatics and the former employees stole from NEB proprietary information "of significant scientific and commercial value" related to critical enzymes, and used that information to form Enzymatics, which is now part of Qiagen.

In late 2013, the Massachusetts Superior Court decided not to rule on the matter of the alleged theft, and instead "set aside NEB's claims because of a disputable technicality based on the timing of when the suit was filed," NEB CEO James Ellard said in a statement at the time.

Ellard added that NEB filed its suit "immediately" after learning of the alleged theft and said the firm planned to immediately appeal the decision, "confident that a higher court will acknowledge that the defendants should not be rewarded for successfully concealing their theft of company assets."

However, according to court documents obtained by GenomeWeb, NEB's appeal has been rejected.

NEB had said in its complaint that it was "injured by the defendants prior to and immediately following the individual defendants' departure from NEB in October of 2006," yet the lawsuit was filed "more than four years from that time," the appeals court wrote in its ruling.

Additionally, the court found that NEB had become aware as early as mid-2007 that its former employees had established a new business and were marketing enzymes that competed with NEB's own products.

Officials from NEB were not available by press time. A spokesperson from Qiagen, which acquired Enzymatics for $114.2 million last year, declined to comment.