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INDUSTRY BRIEFS: Jun 3, 2002

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ABI/MDS Sciex Win Additional $5.1M from Micromass

Applied Biosystems and MDS Sciex won additional damages in their patent infringement lawsuit against Micromass, the companies said last week.

Wilmington, Del. Federal District Court Judge Roderick McKelvie denied the motions filed by Micromass parent Waters Corporation, which had sought to set aside a March 15 jury decision that awarded $47.5 million in damages to Applied Biosystems and MDS.

The judge also tacked on an additional award of $5.1 million in pre-judgment interest, and entered a permanent injunction prohibiting the sale or importation into the United States of Micromass Quattro Ultima systems. While the ruling does not affect sales of the same system in other countries, Micromass has had to redesign its high-end Q-TOF mass spectrometers for the US market to avoid infringing the ABI/MDS Sciex patent.

 

Sigma-Aldrich and Chromagen to Develop Fluorescence Assays

Sigma-Aldrich and Chromagen of San Diego have agreed to develop fluorescence-based assays for use in genomics and proteomics applications, the companies said last week. The agreement gives Sigma access to Chromagen’s StarBright technology to independently develop, manufacture, and sell products based on the technology, but the two companies will also jointly develop and sell novel assays. Financial terms were not disclosed.

 

Festo Decision Returned to Lower Court

The Supreme Court last week overturned an Appeals Court ruling that had been blasted by the biotechnology industry as a major blow to patent protection and intellectual property integrity. The highest court ruled unanimously to restore the “doctrine of equivalents” in patent law. Broadly, the decision makes it easier to protect patents and harder to challenge them.

Festo v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki began in 1988, when the machine part manufacturer Festo filed suit against the Japanese firm and its U.S. subsidiary, claiming that Shoketsu’s subsidiary had copied its piston design.

The U.S. District Court for Massachusetts agreed, based on the principle of the “doctrine of equivalents.” That legal concept holds that a process or invention that uses slightly different technology to achieve the same results as a patented invention is in violation of that patent, as long as the technology is “equivalent.”

For decades, this doctrine of equivalents strengthened patent protection by preventing potential infringers from tweaking a few technical details of an existing invention and then claiming the technology as their own.

In November 2000, however, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against Festo, crippling the doctrine of equivalents as a legal tool by holding that any modifications or refinements made to a patent during the back-and-forth of the application process would be exempt from the doctrine. Since this back-and-forth process tends to be lengthy and broad, the ruling effectively gutted the doctrine.

Industries like genomics that rely on strong intellectual property protection were devastated by the 2000 ruling. A broad coalition of high-tech backers supported a Supreme Court appeal, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

The ruling will send the case back to the lower courts.

 

Pharmagene and Wita Complete COPDStudy

Pharmagene of Royston, UK, and WITA Proteomics of Berlin, Germany, said last week that they had completed a proteomics study of how chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) affected human tissue. The joint research program, begun in March 2001, identified “a number” of differentially regulated proteins from WITA’s database of 3,257 proteins, the companies said.

 

Gyros Teams With Kratos for MS Sample Prep

Gyros of Uppsala, Sweden, said last week that it had signed an agreement with Kratos Analytical to develop a sample prep station to accompany Kratos’ Axima-QIT hybrid MALDI quadrupole ion trap and Axima-CFR curved field reflectron mass spectrometers. The adaptation of the Gyros technology, which is based on a compact disc microfluidics technology, will allow researchers to concentrate, purify, and crystallize protein samples on the target, and then transfer the target directly to the mass spectrometer, the company said.

 

The Scan

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Can't Be Used

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PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.