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BD, Cellular Research Sue 10x Genomics for Infringing Single-Cell Analysis Patents

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Becton Dickinson and its subsidiary Cellular Research have filed a lawsuit against 10x Genomics alleging that a number of 10x products infringe single-cell analysis-related patents owned by the plaintiffs.

In the suit, which was filed late last week in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, BD and Cellular Research allege that 10x's products infringe specifically on a group of seven patents collectively referred to as the "Fodor patents," and a group of four patents collectively referred to as the "Fan patents." The Fodor patents are all entitled "Digital counting of individual molecules by stochastic attachment of diverse labels," or some variation thereof; while the Fan patents are all entitled "Massively parallel single-cell analysis."

Cellular Research was founded around 2011 by Bay Area molecular biology entrepreneurs including Stephen Fodor, Glenn Fu, and Stephen Quake, and was the previous assignee of the Fodor and Fan patents, which were based on work done by Fodor, Christina Fan, and several other researchers named as co-inventors. Cellular Research was developing a gene expression platform leveraging so-called molecular indexing technology that was largely based on the patents.

BD acquired Cellular Research in 2015, just several months after the companies had forged a single-cell sequencing co-marketing agreement combining the molecular indexing technology with BD FACS single-cell sorting instruments. After a few prior iterations, BD eventually launched a platform for single-cell multi-omic analysis called the BD Rhapsody, which, according to the lawsuit filed last week, "enables digital quantitation of hundreds of expressed genes across tens of thousands of single cells" and leverages innovations from Cellular Research.

The patents asserted in the lawsuit "contribute to BD's reputation as an industry leader in single-molecule counting and single-cell analysis technologies and help protect BD's significant investment to design and develop innovative solutions for its customers," the plaintiffs allege. "10x has infringed and continues to infringe the asserted patents by making, using (including during research and development activities and product testing), offering for sale, selling, and/or importing at least 10x's single-cell solutions and workflows, or inducing or contributing to such acts."

The lawsuit further asserts that 10x's infringement has been and continues to be willful. "At least since about May 2017, 10x has had knowledge of the asserted patents, has recognized their value, and has also recognized that it needs a license to the asserted patents in order to make, use, sell, offer to sell, and/or import at least its single-cell solutions and workflows," the filing states. "10x has not obtained such a license. Nevertheless, 10x has continued its infringement with knowledge of the asserted patents and recognition of its need for a license."

The plaintiffs assert that examples of such products include 10x's single-cell 3' workflow, also known as the single-cell gene expression and Chromium Single-Cell 3' platforms; its single-cell 5' workflow, aka the single-cell immune profiling and Chromium Single-Cell V(D)J platforms; its Chromium Single-Cell ATAC solution; its Chromium Single-Cell CNV solution; and its Chromium Single-Cell Gene Expression Solution v3.

BD and Cellular Research are seeking a judgment that 10x has infringed the asserted patents and that they are entitled to preliminary and permanent injunctive relief enjoining 10x from manufacturing, selling, or importing the named products into the US. They are also seeking triple damages due to willful infringement; other costs; and reasonable expenses and attorneys' fees.

This lawsuit comes just a few days after a jury awarded Bio-Rad Laboratories $23.9 millionin damages in its own patent infringement lawsuit against 10x after unanimously finding that all single-cell and linked-read genomics products sold by 10x willfully infringed three US patents owned by the University of Chicago and exclusively licensed to Bio-Rad. According to company spokesperson, Bio-Rad also has additional multiple legal actions pending against 10x Genomics, including District Court actions in California and Delaware, an action at the International Trade Commission, and a patent enforcement action in Germany.

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