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Federal Court Upholds $48.6M Award Against Life Tech

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A federal court has upheld a jury verdict which awarded Enzo Biochem $48.6 million after finding that Life Technologies has infringed Enzo's patents.

In addition to upholding the damage award, Judge Janet Bond Arterton of US District Court for the District of Connecticut denied Life Tech's request that Enzo's infringement claims are barred by laches and /or equitable estoppel, Enzo said today. The court also denied a motion by Life Tech for a new trial and Enzo's request for reconsideration seeking additional damages.

Laches is a legal doctrine that a claim cannot be enforced or allowed if a delay in asserting a right has harmed an opposing party. Equitable estoppel refers to a court denying legal relief to a party because of unfair behavior.

Enzo said that the federal court's decision reached last week clears the way for it to recover prejudgment interest on the damages award, which could be more than $25 million, on top of the $48.6 million.

The case revolves around a lawsuit that Enzo and Yale University filed against Life Tech's predecessor, Applera, in 2004 alleging infringement of six patents. The lawsuit pertained to CE sequencing products sold between 1998 and 2004.

Eventually, only one of the six patents was left standing in dispute, US Patent No. 5,449,767. In November, a jury found that Life Tech infringed the patent.

At the time, Enzo said that Life Tech recorded sales of about $770 million from products which incorporated the '767 patent and that it would pursue damages based on the jury decision. The $48.6 million jury verdict was in direct infringement penalties, Enzo said in November.

"We are pleased with the Judge's decision which, in addition to the monetary award, we anticipate will have a positive impact on the resolution of pending actions that Enzo brought in the U.S. Southern District Court in New York City, which involve additional defendants, patents and contract issues," Enzo President Barry Weiner said in a statement today.

A spokesman for Enzo said in an e-mail to GenomeWeb Daily News that the pending actions include litigation against GE's Amersham business; Roche Diagnostics; PerkinElmer; Molecular Probes, now part of Life Tech; Orchid Cellmark, now part of Laboratory Corporation of America; and Affymetrix.

In an e-mail to GWDN, a spokesman for Life Tech said, "We respectfully do not agree with the decision by the Court, and are evaluating various options."