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Natera Sues Sequenom over Noninvasive Prenatal Diagnosis IP

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Prenatal diagnostics company Natera has sued Sequenom, claiming that it does not infringe a patent on noninvasive prenatal diagnosis methods held by Sequenom.

The suit also claims that the patent in question, US Patent No. 6,258,540, entitled "Non-invasive prenatal diagnosis," is invalid.

Sequenom disclosed the suit today in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Natera, which recently changed its name from Gene Security Network, filed the complaint on Jan. 6 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Natera is seeking a judicial declaration that a noninvasive prenatal paternity test it is developing does not infringe the '540 patent, which is assigned to Dennis Lo of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Sequenom holds an exclusive license to the IP and has stated publicly on several occasions that it believes other companies developing such tests would infringe the '540 patent, which is at the core of its recently launched MaterniT21 sequencing-based test.

Natera also asked the court to declare that at least one of the patent's claims is invalid "for failure to comply with the requirements" of US patent law, according to Sequenom's SEC filing.

Sequenom said that it intends to "vigorously defend against the judicial declarations sought in the complaint."

The suit follows a few weeks after Aria Diagnostics, another company developing a noninvasive prenatal test, filed a similar complaint against Sequenom.

In its complaint, Aria said that it had received a letter from Sequenom's counsel requesting a "detailed explanation" of why its test would not infringe the '540 patent. Like Natera, Aria also requested a declaratory judgment that its test does not infringe the IP.

Aria earlier this week raised more than $50 million in Series C financing to commercialize its prenatal trisomy test.