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Columbia Sues Illumina for Infringement of NGS Patents

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Columbia University's trustees today sued Illumina claiming infringement of five patents covering methods for next-generation sequencing.

In the lawsuit filed in US District Court for the District of Delaware, Columbia alleges Illumina infringes on US Patent Nos. 7,635,578; 7,713,698; 7,790,869; 7,883,869; and 8,088,575.

A spokesperson for the San Diego-based company said in an e-mail to GenomeWeb Daily News, “We believe these claims are without merit and we will defend against them vigorously.”

The patents in dispute were issued between the end of 2009 and January 2012 and assigned to Columbia. Collectively they cover DNA sequencing technologies, in particular a technology called "sequencing by synthesis."

For example, the '578 patent, the first to be issued of the five included in the litigation, describes methods for attaching a nucleic acid to a solid surface and sequencing the acid by identifying each nucleotide analogue after the analogue is incorporated into a growing strand of DNA in a polymerase reaction.

The inventions covered by the patents were made by Jingyue Ju at Columbia, and a firm called Intelligent Bio-Systems has licensed at least some of the technology, as GWDN's sister publication In Sequence reported a few years ago.

In its complaint, Columbia alleges Illumina's instruments — including its HiSeq 2500/1500 and HiSeq 2000/1000, as well as its MiSeq desktop sequencer and Genome Analyzer IIx — infringe the patents. Additionally, the university claims the company's NGS kits and reagents, and services offered through its Illumina Genome Network, certified service provider program, and its individual whole-genome sequencing service infringe on the patents.

Columbia is asking the court to find that Illumina directly infringed the patents and to issue an injunction against the firm from manufacturing and selling products that it claims infringes the patents.

It seeks damages and asks the court to increase the amount to be awarded by as much as three times because Illumina willfully infringed the patents.