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Nanosphere/Eppendorf IP Dispute Ends in $4M Licensing Deal

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By Justin Petrone

Nanosphere has agreed to pay Eppendorf $4 million to acquire certain patent and patent rights on a global basis, ending an ongoing IP dispute between the two firms.

According to a statement released this week, the agreement also includes a "limited license back to service existing Eppendorf customers and licenses previously issued that relate to the purchased patents and patent rights." As part of the deal, the two parties have decided to settle a patent litigation case.

The deal comes a year after German array firm Eppendorf sued Northbrook, Ill.-based molecular diagnostics firm Nanosphere for violating its IP. Eppendorf had filed a suit in the US District Court for the District of Delaware against Nanosphere, claiming that its Verigene system willfully infringed a patent covering its Silverquant colorimetric microarray detection technology.

Verigene is a benchtop molecular diagnostics workstation that uses gold nanoparticle technology to detect nucleic acid and protein targets of interest for a variety of applications.

The IP at the center of the case was US patent No. 7,321,829, and is titled, "Method for the identification and/or the quantification of a target compound obtained from a biological sample upon chips." Eppendorf had been seeking "treble damages of substantial magnitude" and legal fees.

In September 2009, Nanosphere denied infringing the patent, and filed a counterclaim seeking judgment that the claims of the '829 patent were invalid and unenforceable. A trial date was set for Nov. 1, 2010. As part of its efforts to defend its IP, Eppendorf in December 2009 also initiated an import ban that would cover any and all imports of Nanosphere's Verigene system into the European Union (BAN 12/22/2009).

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