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Helicos Files Patent Infringement Suit against Pacific Biosciences

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Helicos Biosciences has filed a suit against Pacific Biosciences alleging infringement of four patents held by the firm.

Helicos filed the suit Friday in the US District Court for the District of Delaware. It claims that Pacific Biosciences is infringing claims in four of its US Patents: Nos. 7,645,596; 7,037,687; 7,169,560; and 7,767,400.

Those patents cover Helicos' methods for sequencing a single strand of DNA by synthesizing a complementary strand of DNA using labeled nucleotide bases. This sequencing-by-synthesis method underlies Helicos' single-molecule sequencing platform.

In the lawsuit, Helicos asserts that PacBio is infringing the patents through the manufacture and sale of instruments incorporating its Single Molecule Real Time (SMRT) DNA sequencing technology.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Helicos filed the suit following PacBio's recent filing of a registration statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of common stock. Helicos cited that S-1 Registration Statement, and specifically claims about PacBio's technology contained in that filing, as part of its proof of alleged infringement.

In addition, Helicos said in its suit that PacBio is actively inducing third parties to infringe its patents. It noted several well-known research institutes, universities, and firms — including the Baylor College of Medicine, the Broad Institute, the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, Monsanto, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, among others — which have ordered PacBio's RS instruments .

PacBio has yet to commercially launch its instrument. But it recently filed for the IPO, in which it hopes to raise as much as $200 million, to support ongoing R&D associated with the SMRT technology and to increase sales and marketing efforts in advance of its intended commercial launch of the system early next year.

Helicos has asked the court to find that PacBio is willfully infringing the four patents and to order a permanent injunction prohibiting PacBio from further infringement. It also is seeking damages associated with infringement and loss of market share and costs and attorneys' fees associated with the lawsuit.

Helicos is currently undergoing a restructuring, shifting its focus from the genomics research market to the molecular diagnostics market. Though it recently reported a nearly 200 percent increase in its second-quarter revenues, the firm also said that as of Aug. 11 it had only $3.7 million in cash and cash equivalents.