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Helicos Drops Suit Against Life Tech, Leaving Illumina as Sole Defendant

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This article was originally published July 9.

Helicos has dropped a patent infringement lawsuit against Life Technologies in a dispute that began in 2010 and also included Pacific Biosciences and Illumina as defendants.

The litigation was related to Life Tech's "Starlight" single-molecule sequencing technology, which Helicos alleged was infringing its patents. Helicos CEO Ivan Trifunovich told In Sequence via e-mail that the company has dropped the suit because Starlight is "all but abandoned as a commercial platform by Life."

Life Technologies declined to comment on the case.

In documents filed with the US District Court for the District of Delaware, all claims asserted by Helicos are "dismissed in their entirety with prejudice and without costs or attorneys' fees" to either Helicos or Life Tech against the other.

Additionally, all counterclaims by Life Tech against Helicos are also dismissed.

The dismissal follows an unsuccessful attempt by Life Tech last year to get itself dropped from the litigation because it was not commercializing its Starlight technology, but the court denied that motion (IS 4/10/2012).

According to court documents filed at the time, Life Tech stopped commercializing the Starlight technology in February 2011, and had no plans to commercialize it in the future.

Now that Helicos has dropped the suit against Life Tech, only Illumina remains as a defendant. In May, Helicos settled its dispute with Pacific Biosciences for an undisclosed amount. The settlement gave PacBio "worldwide, non-exclusive licenses" to the Helicos patents (IS 5/8/2012).

At the time, Trifunovich said that the settlement with PacBio would allow it to focus on Illumina and Life Tech, the other two defendants in the suit. Trifunovich declined to say how Helicos' decision to drop its case against Life Tech would affect its actions in the case against Illumina.

Helicos first brought its patent infringement suit against PacBio in 2010, claiming that the company infringed four of its patents: US Patent Nos. 7,645,596 and 7,037,687, both entitled "Method of determining the nucleotide sequence of oligonucleotides and DNA molecules"; US Patent No. 7,169,560, entitled "Short cycle methods for sequencing polynucleotides"; and US Patent No. 7,767,400, entitled "Paired-end reads in sequencing by synthesis."

It later added Life Tech and Illumina, claiming that Life Tech infringed the '596, '687, and '560 patents and Illumina on the '687 and '650 patents. The suit also alleges that Illumina infringes on an additional patent, US Patent No. 7,593,109, entitled "Apparatus and methods for analyzing samples."

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