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Oxford Immunotec Sues Qiagen, Quest, LabCorp for Infringing T-SPOT TB Test Patents

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) –Oxford Immunotec has sued Qiagen, Quest Diagnostics, and Laboratory Corporation of America for infringing patents underlying Oxford's T-SPOT TB test.

In a complaint filed this week in US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Oxford alleged that Qiagen's QuantiFERON-TB Gold and QuantiFERON-TB Plus tuberculosis diagnostics use peptide antigens patented by Oxford.

The T-SPOT test and the QuantiFERON-TB tests are intended as alternatives to traditional skin prick diagnostics for detecting latent TB. Both use tuberculosis peptides to simulate the presence of the TB protein ESAT-6. They then measure the immune response to these peptides. Patients with latent TB will manifest a response to these peptides while patients without the infection will not.

According to Oxford's complaint, the Qiagen tests infringe on six of its patents covering the T-SPOT TB test and the peptides used in it: US Patent Nos. 7,632,646; 7,901,898; 8,216,795; 8,507,211; 8,617,821; and 9,005,902. Quest and LabCorp are included in the complaint on the grounds that, by offering the Qiagen tests in the US, they are also infringing on Oxford's patents.

In the complaint, Oxfordrequested that the court grant a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing the defendants from further infringement of the patents in question. The company also requested damages to compensate for the infringement along with pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on these damages and an award to cover its legal fees.

An investor note issued this week by investment bank Piper Jaffray said that the company's analysts were "relatively surprised" by the lawsuit given that both companies' tests have been on the market in various forms for more than eight years. Qiagen launched the QuantiFERON-TB Plus at the beginning of this year. 

The patents in dispute were issued more recently, however, with the first, the '646 patent, issued to Oxford on Dec. 15, 2009, and the latest, the '902 patent, issued on April 14, 2015.

The Piper Jaffray note added that an Oxford win would most likely result in royalties being paid to the company on the sale of every QuantiFERON test, though the analysts said that the top-line impact to Qiagen of such a decision was "difficult to forecast." According to Qiagen, the QuantiFERON-TB Gold test did more than $100 million in sales globally in 2014.

The US District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued Qiagen a summons on Aug. 10, 2015. Qiagen has 21 days from that date to answer the complaint.

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