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Illumina Countersues Life Technologies in Ongoing Sequencing Patent Row

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Illumina and its Solexa subsidiary today said that they have filed a countersuit in response to a DNA sequencing patent-infringement lawsuit brought against them last month by Life Technologies and its subsidiary Applied Biosystems.

In their filing, Illumina and Solexa have denied all of Life's and ABI's allegations of patent infringement, and they have asserted that ABI's licensed patents are invalid.

In their counterclaims, Illumina and Solexa also have sued Life and ABI for allegedly infringing four Solexa patents with Life's SOLiD sequencing system. These four patents — US Nos. 6,831,994; 6,654,505; 7,232,656; and 7,598,035 — stem from three different patent families and are applicable to various aspects of the SOLiD system, specifically sample preparation, data gathering, and genome analysis, Illumina said.

Illumina is seeking a permanent injunction against further sales of the SOLiD system, the destruction of infringing SOLiD system products, and damages for Life and ABI's alleged infringement of the four patents.

"While we strongly prefer to compete in the marketplace rather than in the courtroom, we are determined to protect our position in the market so that our customers can continue to benefit from the technological advances Illumina has brought to the field of DNA sequencing," Jay Flatley, President and CEO of Illumina, said in a statement. "We also stand ready to assert our patent rights in court whenever necessary."

Illumina filed its countersuit in response to a suit filed on Sept. 21 by Life Tech and several co-plaintiffs against Illumina and Solexa, which developed the sequencing technology before it was acquired by Illumina in 2006.

In that suit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, plaintiffs Life, ABI, the Institute for Protein Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and three individuals claimed that Illumina's DNA sequencing products and services, including its Genome Analyzer, infringe three DNA amplification patents — US Nos. 5,616,478; 5,958,698; and 6,001,568 — to which ABI holds an exclusive license.

Illumina and Solexa are involved in an additional patent infringement suit against ABI, in which they allege that the SOLiD system infringes other Solexa patents. That suit, currently on appeal, is also a countersuit to one filed by ABI against Solexa in December 2006.

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