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Life Tech Sues AB Sciex for Improper Use of 'AB' Marks

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Life Technologies is suing AB Sciex and its parent firm Danaher, alleging that the mass spectrometry company that was once part of Life Tech is using the "AB" brand in violation of an agreement that was reached when AB Sciex was sold to Danaher last year.

When the sale to Danaher was completed, creating AB Sciex, it was granted a license to use the "AB" marks in connection to the mass spectrometry business, but Life Tech alleges in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in US District Court for the Southern District of New York that AB Sciex has been using the marks in a manner not covered by the licensing agreement.

As a result, Life Tech claims Danaher and AB Sciex have breached their contract. It also alleges AB Sciex has made "false and/or misleading representations of fact regarding the source, nature, characteristics, and/or quality of [its] reagents, application software, and liquid chromatography products; accuses AB Sciex of common law trademark infringement; accuses AB Sciex of diluting the "AB" marks; and alleges unfair competition.

Life Tech is seeking an injunction against AB Sciex and Danaher from using the "AB" and AB Sciex marks in terms other than those defined by their licensing agreement, and is seeking monetary damages in the amount of their actual damages and AB Sciex's profits.

On deadline, officials from AB Sciex and Danaher were not available for comment.

In its complaint Carlsbad, Calif.-based Life Tech said that when it completed the sale of its mass spectrometry business that had been housed in its Applied Biosystems business to Danaher in January 2010, it granted Danaher and AB Sciex a license to use the "AB" mark "solely in connection with mass spec operations."

Life Tech defines mass spec operations as activity connected with "developing, designing, selling, reselling, leasing, providing access to, manufacturing, offering, providing, distributing, or marketing mass spectrometry instruments or mass spectrometry services."

The "AB" marks, which have a value of $100 million, according to Life Tech, includes the AB word mark, the AB logo mark, the AB Applied Biosystems word mark, and all of its derivatives, Life Tech said in its complaint.

Under the terms of the agreement, neither Danaher nor AB Sciex could use the "AB" mark for reagents, application software, or consumables, Life Tech added.

It alleges, however, that AB Sciex has, in fact, been using the mark in such a fashion, including on its website which states, "AB Sciex can supply you integrated solutions consisting of a mass spectrometer, HPLC, software, chemistries, methods, service and support."

AB Sciex "prominently displays" the AB Sciex marks throughout its website, Life Tech added, in connection with "scores of reagents and application software products," and uses the marks in product packaging, marketing literature, and sales collateral.

AB Sciex also is using the "AB" marks in connection to its liquid chromatography business that it purchased from Eksigent last year, shortly after Danaher completed the mass spec acquisition, Life Tech alleges. "Liquid chromatography is outside the definition of mass spec operations," under the terms of the agreement reached by three parties, Life Tech said. "When [AB Sciex] bought the liquid chromatography business … it confirmed publicly in a press release that it was using the AB Sciex marks in connection with that business," Life Tech said in its complaint.

It has contacted AB Sciex about its unauthorized use of the "AB" marks and has asked the Foster City, Calif.-based company to stop. AB Sciex has acknowledged that its use of the marks is unauthorized, Life Tech alleges, but intentionally continues to use them in connection with reagents.

AB Sciex's "continuing unlawful uses of the AB Sciex marks and 'AB' marks have caused Life Tech and [Applied Biosystem] irreparable harm," Life Tech said, and is asking the court to order AB Sciex to stop using the "AB" marks completely and the AB Sciex marks in connection with mass spectrometry reagents, other consumables, and application software and LC products.

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