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Life Tech CEO Says Renewed Licensing Effort, Digital PCR Patents Will Spur Royalties

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By Bernadette Toner

Life Technologies' ongoing effort to reverse deteriorating royalty revenues from its PCR intellectual property estate is beginning to pay off, according to the firm's CEO.

During a presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference this week in San Francisco, Greg Lucier said that the company's PCR patent portfolio generated around $10 million more than expected in 2009, and that the company "has been able to mitigate totally any erosion of that patent estate in 2010 by new licensing strategies."

Lucier disclosed last fall that Life Technologies had formed a licensing team with the goal of offsetting declining PCR royalty revenues. He said at the time that the team comprised the "best licensing people" from the company's Applied Biosystems and Invitrogen businesses.

Lucier this week said the team's ability to revitalize that revenue stream reflects the company's effort to integrate the Applied Biosystems and Invitrogen businesses.

He said that prior to the acquisition one area of "concern" for some observers was ABI's PCR patent estate, which at one time was generating as much as $100 million per year but by 2008 had fallen by half. Life Technologies had initially predicted PCR royalties to decline by $30 million in 2009 and by a total of $15 million in 2010.

However, the licensing team managed to reduce the decline in 2009 royalties to around $20 million, while it appears that 2010 will see no deterioration at all, Lucier said this week.

He called this "example of where, by bringing together two organizations, we've been able to turn what was a potential negative into a positive."

Lucier said the licensing team's efforts could also accelerate Life Tech's efforts to pull royalty revenue from its acquisition last year of Cytonix, a privately held microfluidics firm. He said that purchase, made for an undisclosed amount, gave the firm "all the intellectual property for digital PCR, so that will be part of the portfolio of patents that we go out and license from here."

Lucier added that the company believes "there is a time in the next couple of years where we will actually return this patent portfolio to growth," but did not elaborate.

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