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Helicos Names Life Tech, Illumina as Additional Defendants in Patent Infringement Suit

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Helicos Biosciences today said it has added Life Technologies and Illumina to its patent infringement lawsuit against Pacific Biosciences alleging that the firms infringe on five patents pertaining to its single-molecule sequencing technology.

In an amended complaint filed on Friday in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, Helicos claimed the three firms infringe on US Patent Nos. 7,645,596; 7,037,687; 7,169,560; and 7,767,400. It also said that Illumina infringes on Patent No. 7,593,109, which was not contained in the original complaint filed in August against Pacific Biosciences.

Helicos' patents cover "key features" of sequencing-by-synthesis technology, it said in a statement today. Its technology uses nucleotides, which are labeled with detectable markers for the determination of each nucleotide into the DNA strand being extended by the polymerase.

"The patents describe processes that involve, for example, identifying each new nucleotide by observing its detectable label and neutralizing or removing the label before addition of the next nucleotide," Helicos said. These patented methods and technologies, the company said, "are at the heart of the defendants' sequencing technology platforms."

It added that it believes Illumina's Genome Analyzer and HiSeq 2000 contain "critical detection components" that infringe on patent 7,593,109. The patent relates to methods, systems, and apparatus for analyzing biological samples, and can involve a vacuum source to pull microfluidic volumes through equipment such as flow cells, according to the patent abstract. It also involves the use of optical equipment with the analytical equipment to analyze samples.

Helicos is seeking injunctions against PacBio, Life Tech, and Illumina from further infringing on the patents, as well as damages.

In a statement, Ivan Trifunovich, Helicos' newly appointed president and CEO, said that Helicos was the first to invent and market single-molecule sequencing technology "and has established a foundational patent estate with the earliest priority dates in the field. After a careful examination of the sequencing products and technologies offered Illumina and Life Technologies, we are convinced that they, in addition to Pacific Biosciences, infringe the Helicos patents, which are in full force and effect up through 2028."

Helicos is in the midst of a turnaround effort that includes a shifting of its focus from developing sequencing technologies for research applications to the molecular diagnostics market.