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Life Tech Found Guilty of IP Infringement as LabCorp Subsidiary Hits Firm with Separate Suit

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Life Technologies reported after the close of the market on Thursday that a jury has found it guilty of infringing Enzo Biochem's patents and awarded Enzo $48.6 million.

Also, Esoterix Genetic Laboratories and Johns Hopkins University have hit Life Tech and its Ion Torrent business with a separate lawsuit claiming patent infringement.

Enzo Biochem and Yale University filed their suit against Life Tech's predecessor Applera and its subsidiary Tropix in 2004. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the District of Connecticut, pertained to CE sequencing products sold during 1998 to 2004.

While the lawsuit originally claimed Life Tech infringed six patents, eventually only one patent was left standing in dispute, US Patent No. 5,449,767. The jury found Life Tech infringed the patent, but did not find the infringement to be willful, according to court documents.

Enzo said today that Life Tech recorded sales of about $770 million from products which incorporated the '767 patent and plans to pursue damages based on the jury decision. The $48.6 million awarded by the jury is in direct infringement penalties, Enzo said.

In a statement, Elazar Rabbani, chairman and CEO of Enzo, said, "The technologies subject to the litigation helped pave the way for major developments in important areas in biological science and medicine. The case has taken eight years, but we have finally prevailed."

Life Tech said it plans to appeal the decision. The '767 patent expired in 2004 and will not impact the company's CE business moving forward, it added.

Also, on Wednesday Laboratory Corporation of America's wholly owned subsidiary Esoterix Genetic Labs and the Johns Hopkins University sued Life Tech and its Ion Torrent business for infringement of US Patent Nos. 6,440,706; 7,824,889; and 7,915,015.

The patents are each titled "Digital amplification," and are owned by Johns Hopkins and licensed to Esoterix Genetic Labs.

The patents pertain to methods of transforming pre-defined mutations present in a minor fraction of a cell population from the exponential, analog nature of PCR into a linear, digital signal, according to their abstracts. Single molecules can be isolated and amplified individually and then the products are separately analyzed for the presence of mutations.

"The process provides a reliable and quantitative measure of the proportion of variant sequences within a DNA sample," each of the abstracts states.

The plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction against Life Tech as well as damages. On a conference call following Life Tech's earnings release on Thursday evening Life Tech Chairman and CEO Greg Lucier called the lawsuit "baseless" and said the firm will defend itself "vigorously."

The lawsuit was filed in US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, Greensboro Division.

In May Esoterix Genetic Labs sued Life Tech alleging infringement of three different patents.

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