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In Blunt Response, Open Biosystems Defends Itself Against Sigma-Aldrich Suit

NEW YORK, June 15 (GenomeWeb News) - Open Biosystems today responded to a patent-infringement suit filed against it by Sigma-Aldrich and Oxford BioMedica, framing the dispute in David vs. Goliath terms.
The company also said it plans to "defend these claims" and "reaffirmed its dedication" to The RNAi Consortium lentiviral libraries at the heart of the suit.
"These large, publicly traded companies have targeted a privately held and socially responsible company with these accusations," Open Biosystems Chief Technology Officer Troy Moore said in a statement. "The claims of patent infringement in the lawsuit are unfounded, and we intend to vigorously defend against them.
"We conduct our business on the highest plane and in a way that results in genomic materials being made available to the research community," Moore added. "It is our belief that there is a greater value in making technologies broadly available both to the holder of the intellectual property and to the research community."   

As GenomeWeb News reported yesterday, Sigma-Aldrich and Oxford BioMedica sued Open Biosystems for allegedly infringing two patents that cover lentiviral-based systems for the delivery of foreign DNA into mammalian cells.

The complaint, filed in US District Court Eastern District of Missouri, alleges that Open Biosystems is infringing US Patent Nos. 6,924,123 and 7,056,699, which Oxford owns and exclusively licensed to Sigma-Aldrich for research use in October 2005.
The suit claims that Open Biosystems' Lentiviral shRNAmir Library is being sold for "incorporation into viral particles that infringe one or more claims of the patents." 
Shaf Yousaf, president of Sigma-Aldrich's research biotechnology business unit, said in a statement that the company has made "significant investments in creating the most comprehensive portfolio of intellectual property to allow [its] customers freedom to operate in the cutting-edge arena of RNA Interference" and its "actions will be to defend [its] investments and the valuable intellectual property."
In its statement today, Open Biosystems said it that the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard developed the TRC lentiviral libraries and the company "continues to operate under license" from them. Open added that Sigma-Aldrich also distributes these libraries.
"It is never our policy to infringe upon intellectual property," Open Biosystems CEO Brian Pollock said in the statement. "Open Biosystems was founded upon an open source business model that supports basic and medical research by making the newest and best life sciences tools readily available to scientists in academia, government and industry.
"This business model is disrupting the strategy of large corporate gate-keepers that are determined to control, not advance, research efforts," he said, apparently referring to Sigma-Aldrich and Oxford Biomedica.

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