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Fluidigm Pays Life Tech $2M to Shield Itself from PCR-related Patent Litigation

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Fluidigm has paid Life Technologies $2 million to shield itself from litigation related to Life Tech's PCR patents, some of which were the subject of lawsuits the two firms filed against each other in June.

Fluidigm disclosed the payment in its second-quarter earnings document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission this week. As a result of the payment, Life Tech cannot sue Fluidigm or its customers in relation to the Carlsbad, Calif., company's PCR patents. Fluidigm is protected from such litigation for four years while its customers are shielded for a two-year period.

The payment comes out of a settlement reached by the companies last month to end a patent dispute. As part of the settlement, Fluidigm and Life Tech agreed to cross-license and sub-license PCR-based technologies, imaging readers, and other technologies, and Fluidigm made a $3 million upfront payment to Life Tech.

Each firm also had an option to "limit or preclude" patent litigation. While Fluidigm exercised the option by paying Life Tech $2 million in addition to the $3 million settlement, Life Tech chose not to exercise its option, Fluidigm said in its SEC document.

A Fluidigm spokesman added that the payment protects the company from "any litigation on any of Life's [PCR] patents," and not just the ones covered by the settlement.

The company said that the payment will be accounted for as an "other asset" and amortized to SG&A expenses over four years starting July 2011.

The South San Francisco, Calif.-based company also disclosed a $500,000 payment it received for achieving a milestone as part of a collaborative deal with Novartis. In April, Fluidigm said in an SEC document that the companies amended their development deal, which covers molecular diagnostics based on Fluidigm's digital PCR system.

This week, the company disclosed that it had achieved two milestones during the second quarter of 2011, triggering the $500,000 payment. It added that one additional milestone remains, and if achieved, Fluidigm would be eligible for another $500,000 payment.

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