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BD Files Patent Infringement Suit Against NeuMoDx

This story has been updated to include a statement from NeuMoDx.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Becton Dickinson, along with its subsidiaries HandyLab and GeneOhm Sciences Canada, filed a lawsuit yesterday in the US District Court for the District of Delaware alleging willful infringement of BD's patents by NeuMoDx Molecular.

The complaint alleges that NeuMoDx, a company founded by former executives from HandyLab, is knowingly violating six US patents held by BD. The patents in question — US patent numbers 8,273,308, 8,703,069, 7,998,708, 8,323,900, 8,415,103 and 8,709,787 — cover certain technologies surrounding the use of microfluidic cartridges for molecular diagnostic assays and instruments.

HandyLab was originally founded in 1999 in Ann Arbor, Michigan by Kalyan Handique and Sundaresh Brahmasandra, the suit states. Jeffrey Williams joined HandyLab as its CEO in 2004, and Williams and Brahmasandra are named inventors on two of the patents. 

BD acquired HandyLab in 2009, then further developed the HandyLab technology into its BD Max system, with Brahmasandra serving as BD's vice president of research and development for assay development.

In 2012, the suit states, Williams founded a company called Molecular Systems, which ultimately became NeuMoDx, and Brahmasandra soon joined as NeuMoDx's president.

Thus, according to the complaint, Williams and Brahmasandra "have long been aware of the inventions and patented technologies of the asserted patents," and, "NeuMoDx has been and is today utilizing the same patented technologies that BD acquired from HandyLab and developed into the BD MAX System."

The suit further states that BD has suffered "severe competitive harm, irreparable injury, and significant damages," and because the "remedy at law is inadequate," BD is also seeking injunctive relief in addition to damages.

The plaintiffs have asked the court to enjoin NeuMoDx from "manufacturing, using, offering for sale, selling in the United States, or importing into the United States, the accused products, and any other product that infringes or induces or contributes to the infringement of the asserted patents, prior to the expiration date of the last to expire of those patents."

Qiagen currently owns 20 percent of NeuMoDx. A partnership and merger agreement between the firms announced last year gives Qiagen the right to acquire all remaining NeuMoDx shares for a predetermined price of $234 million, subject to regulatory and operational milestones. Qiagen is also currently distributing the NeuMoDx 96 and NeuMoDx 288 instruments in Europe.

NeuMoDx CEO Jeff Williams provided a statement: "We were surprised to hear this morning that Becton, Dickinson and Company filed an infringement suit against NeuMoDx. We have a significant portfolio of patents and considerable subject matter expertise in molecular diagnostic system technology. We strongly believe that we do not violate the patents and will defend the action vigorously."

BD itself was sued in 2010 by Gen-Probe, a company later acquired by Hologic, which claimed that the BD Max system infringed several patents then owned by Gen-Probe. That suit was settled in 2012, with BD granted a license from Gen-Probe to make, use, and sell certain products that BD had been accused of infringing and with BD agreeing to make unspecified payments to Gen-Probe.