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Appeals Court Sides with Agilent in IP Case Against Affymetrix

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A US Court of Appeals has reversed a US District Court's ruling from last year and sided in favor of Agilent Technologies in a patent dispute filed against Affymetrix in 2006.

Agilent's suit claimed that the inventors of Affy's US Patent Application No. 10/619,224 filed their claims "literally copying" the language of Agilent's US Patent No. 6,513,968. Agilent's patent, entitled "Apparatus and method for mixing a film of fluid," was assigned in February 2003, and covers methods for microarray hybridization.

Following a decision by the US Patent Board of Appeals and Interferences in 2006 that Affymetrix was senior party in the interference, Agilent filed its claims seeking for the district court to reverse the patent board's findings. The district court, however, sided with Affymetrix in a decision last summer, and Agilent subsequently filed an appeal.

In its decision published today, the US Court of Appeals overturned last year's judgment.

"Because the district court erred with regard to claim construction, improperly denied Agilent's motion for summary judgment … and improperly granted Affymetrix's cross-motion on the same issue, this court reverses," Judge James Ware wrote in his decision for the appellate court.

"[T]he record shows by a preponderance of the evidence that Affymetrix copied Agilent's claims into its continuation application despite not having disclosed the method in question," the court added in its decision.

The appellate court also said that each party to the case shall bear its own costs.

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