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Suit Against Sigma-Aldrich for False Patent Marking Ends in Settlement

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By Justin Petrone

A suit filed earlier this year that accused Sigma-Aldrich, Affymetrix, and Life Technologies of citing expired patents in their advertising and product literature has ended in a settlement.

According to court documents, Sigma-Aldrich settled with plaintiff Harold Josephs last month and the case was subsequently dismissed by the court with prejudice. In the order of dismissal, dated Nov. 5, Frederick Buckles, district court judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, noted that Sigma and Josephs had "executed a settlement agreement resolving all claims" relating to any patent marking performed prior to Nov. 12, 2010.

Josephs, a "licensed professional engineer," initially sued Sigma in February for falsely marking its products and expanded the suit in April to include Affy and Life Tech (BAN 5/4/2010). However, Josephs amended his complaint in May, dropping Affy and Life Tech from the suit.

Josephs' original complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, alleged that the three life science tool firms knowingly marked their products as being protected by expired patents. Products named in the original suit included Sigma's FLAG protein purification products and GenomePlex whole-genome amplification products; Affy's Mn Buffer and Sequenase DNA Polymerase, which are used in the firm's manual USB DNA sequencing kits; and Life Tech's Amino Allyl MessageAmp II RNA Amplification Kits with CyDyes and Silencer siRNA Labeling Kit-Cy3.

In the case against Sigma, Josephs had sought a fine of an undisclosed amount, of which half would go to the United States and the other half to Josephs; an order enjoining the companies from "committing new acts of false patent marking and to cease all existing acts;" an award to Josephs that would cover the costs of bringing the action; and attorneys' fees. Josephs in February filed a similar suit against Ontario-based Federal-Mogul for falsely marking automotive wiper blades with expired patents.

Representatives for Josephs did not return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment for this story.

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