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Pacific Biosciences Settles IP Litigation with Life Technologies, Helicos

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Pacific Biosciences has settled two separate patent lawsuits with Life Technologies and Helicos BioSciences, the company confirmed today.

In its first-quarter earnings announcement on Tuesday, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm said that it took a $1.8 million charge related to the settlement of two IP matters. Today, Ben Gong, vice president of finance and treasurer of PacBio, confirmed that the charge relates to a lawsuit Life Technologies filed against it in 2011 and a lawsuit Helicos filed against it in 2010.

He declined to provide further details about either settlement. He said that PacBio's agreement with Helicos is not finalized, but "both parties have agreed to settle," and as a result "it was pretty much our obligation to recognize that charge."

Neither settlement occurred in the first quarter, but PacBio recorded the $1.8 million charge as part of its first-quarter earnings results because US Securities Exchange Commission rules say that if the matter at hand, "for all intents and purposes pertain to the period in which you report and it was just a matter of timing… [then] you recognize that activity as if it happened in that period," Gong said.

No licensing deals were reached as part of the settlements and PacBio considers the two matters concluded.

In 2011, Life Tech sued PacBio after a ruling from the US Patent and Trademark Office in a patent-interference case in which it ruled in favor of PacBio, as GenomeWeb Daily News' sister publication In Sequence reported at the time.

The disputed patent is US Patent No. 7,329,492 — acquired by Life Tech when it bought VisiGen Biotechnologies in 2008 — and US Application No. 11/459,182, to which PacBio acquired the rights from Li-Cor Biosciences in 2008. The patent and patent application pertain to technologies that use tagged nucleoside triphosphates for single-molecule sequencing.

According to documents filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California, PacBio and Life Tech settled their dispute sometime in the last two weeks.

Gong said that as a result of the settlement, the USPTO decisions, which were in favor of PacBio, stand.

Helicos sued PacBio in August 2010 alleging infringement of four patents held by Helicos covering its methods for sequencing a single strand of DNA by synthesizing a complementary strand of DNA using labeled nucleotide bases.

The four patents are US Patent Nos. 7,645,596; 7,037,687; 7,169,560; and 7,767,400.

Helicos claimed PacBio infringed the patents through the manufacture and sale of instruments incorporating its Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) DNA sequencing technology.

Helicos' agreed-upon settlement is with PacBio only. Helicos later named Life Tech and Illumina as defendants in the lawsuit, and no deal with those firms has been announced.