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Federal Court Issues Markman Ruling in NIPD Patent Infringement Lawsuits

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A federal court has issued a ruling on certain claims made by Sequenom, Verinata Health, Ariosa Diagnostics and Natera in litigation alleging patent infringement.

The US District Court for the Northern District of California issued its decision on Oct. 16 in a Markman ruling, which seeks to determine the definition of certain language used by parties in litigation. In this case, the court ruled on language used by the four companies, which compete in the non-invasive prenatal diagnostic testing space and have leveled several lawsuits against each other.

In late 2011 Ariosa, then called Aria Diagnostics, sued Sequenom seeking a declaration that it does not infringe US Patent No. 6,258,540, which was assigned to Sequenom. Natera and Verinata followed suit in early 2012, also seeking a declaration that they don't infringe the '540 patent.

Regardless, Sequenom sued Aria and Natera over the patent in early 2012.

Additionally, Verinata and Stanford sued Sequenom claiming it infringed US Patent Nos. 7,888,017; 8,008,018; and 8,195,415 which are licensed to Verinata. Verinata and Stanford also sued Ariosa and Laboratory Corporation of America alleging that they infringe US Patent Nos. 8,296,076 and 8,318,430.

Last week's ruling covers language used in the lawsuits covering all six patents. In some instances, the parties tussled over the use and meaning of scientific language, such as the use of "paternally inherited nucleic acid" in litigation over the '540 patent, as well as the use of "massively parallel DNA sequencing" in Verinata's lawsuit over the '017 and '018 patents.

In that lawsuit, Verinata and Sequenom also squabbled over the use of the word "the" in the term "identifying [the] chromosomes." Sequenom argued that the use of "the" in the '017 patent and the absence of it in the '018 patent alters whether the term refers to target chromosomes. It doesn't, the court said.

In a document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission today, Sequenom said that no trial date has been schedule for any of the cases. A case management conference is scheduled for Nov. 6.