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Complete Genomics Closes $39M Funding Round, Vows to 'Vigorously Defend' Against Illumina Suit

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This article was originally published Aug. 19.

Complete Genomics said last week that it has raised $39 million in a Series E funding round.

The new round brings the company's total financing since inception to $130 million. New investor Sands Capital led the Series E round, which also included existing investors Essex Woodlands, OVP Venture Partners, Prospect Venture Partners, OrbiMed Advisors, Highland Capital Management, and Enterprise Partners.

The company closed the financing as it prepares for an initial public offering in which it aims to raise up to $86.25 million (IS 8/3/2010).

Complete Genomics also said last week that it is "evaluating" a patent infringement lawsuit filed against it earlier this month by Illumina and its predecessor Solexa.

In the suit, filed Aug. 3 with the US District Court for the District of Delaware, Illumina alleged that Complete Genomics infringes US Patents Nos. 6,306,597; 7,232,656; and 7,598,035 (IS 8/10/2010).

Cliff Reid, chairman, president, and CEO of Complete Genomics, said in a statement that although the company "cannot guarantee any particular outcome" in the litigation, "we believe that we have substantial and meritorious defenses to the claims and intend to vigorously defend against this lawsuit.”

He noted that of the three patents, "two of them have been put into reexamination at the United States Patent Office and all of the claims have been initially rejected by the Patent Office and await further review."

These two patents — the ‘656 patent, entitled “Arrayed biomolecules and their use in sequencing,” and the ‘035 patent, entitled “Method and compositions for ordering restriction fragments” — are also the subject of an ongoing lawsuit between Illumina and Life Technologies involving four patents. As part of that litigation, Life Tech requested an inter partes reexamination of the patents, and the USPTO in May rejected all their claims as unpatentable in a non-final office action (IS 6/15/2010).

Reid noted that the third of the three patents — the ‘597 patent, entitled “DNA sequencing by parallel oligonucleotide extensions” — was also the subject of a reexamination at USPTO.

In March, the patent office confirmed the patentability of the first claim of the patent and added a number of new claims.

Reid said last week that even though the USPTO upheld the validity of the method claim in the patent, "three weeks later, the Federal Circuit affirmed a District Court Order, entered pursuant to Solexa’s own stipulation, that the independent method claim in that patent is invalid under the District Court’s claim construction."

His remark likely referred to an earlier patent dispute, between Illumina and Solexa and Life Technologies and Applied Biosystems, in the District Court for the Northern District of California, over ownership and infringement of three patents, including the '597 patent. In early 2009, in a joint stipulation of the parties, Solexa said that claim 1 of the ‘597 patent is anticipated by another patent application, the so-called “Southern reference,” rendering this claim invalid (IS 2/3/2009).

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