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PerkinElmer Sues Agilent for Infringing Mass Spec Patents

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – PerkinElmer is suing Agilent for infringement of two patents covering mass spectrometry technology.

The suit, filed in US District Court for the District of Massachusetts on Friday, alleges Agilent infringes US Patent Nos. 5,686,726 and 5,581,080, entitled, respectively, "Composition of Matter of a Population of Multiply Charged Ions Derived from Polyatomic Parent Molecular Species" and "A Method for Determining Molecular Weight Using Multiply Charged Ions."

Both patents were issued to inventors John Fenn, Chin-Kai Meng, and Matthias Mann. Initially assigned to Fenn, the patents were subsequently assigned to Yale University, which granted an exclusive license to the patents to Analytica of Branford, which PerkinElmer acquired in 2009.

Analytica entered into an agreement with Agilent in March 1997, granting Agilent a license to the patents. According to PerkinElmer's complaint, Agilent stopped making royalty payments required by this agreement after June 30, 2011, breaching the contract and leading to termination of the licensing agreement.

PerkinElmer alleges that Agilent mass spectrometry systems — including the company's 6100 series quadrupole, 6200 series TOF, 6300 series ion trap, 6400 series triple quadrupole, and 6500 series Q-TOF instruments — infringe the patents.

Both patents cover methods of electrospray ionization, or ESI, a technique for producing ions for mass spec analysis. ESI has proven particularly useful for mass spec analysis of large molecules like proteins.

PerkinElmer is asking for damages and an injunction against Agilent from further infringement.

This is the second lawsuit PerkinElmer has filed against a major mass spec vendor in recent months. In February, it filed suit against Waters in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, alleging that certain of that company's mass spectrometers infringed its patents.

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