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Illumina Files New Suits Against BGI in UK, Sweden Over Sequencing IP

This article has been updated with comments from BGI's subsidiary MGI.

NEW YORK – Illumina said on Friday that it has filed two additional patent lawsuits against BGI in the UK and in Sweden.

Both suits claim that BGI's sequencing platforms, including the DNBSeq-400, MGISeq-2000, DNBSeq-T7, and related reagents infringe intellectual property covering Illumina's sequencing-by-synthesis chemistry.

Specifically, Illumina filed a complaint against BGI subsidiaries MGI Tech and Latvia MGI Tech in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Patents Court in the UK, alleging infringement of four European patents: EP 1530578 B1 and EP 3002289 B1, both titled "Modified nucleotides for polynucleotide sequencing;" EP 1828412 B2, titled "Improved method of nucleotide detection;" and EP 2021415 B1, titled "Dye compounds and the use of their labeled conjugates."

Illumina also filed a complaint against Latvia MGI Tech in the Patent and Market Court in Sweden, alleging infringement of the '289 patent.

"We believe these claims have no merit and are typical Illumina tactics intended to maintain a monopolistic market position and prevent choice from being offered to customers," an MGI spokesperson said in a statement. "We intend to vigorously defend ourselves, as we have in other jurisdictions." The spokesperson added that the European Patent Office recently revoked three of Illumina’s DNA sequencing patents.

Illumina's new complaints add to related patent suits the company filed against BGI in various jurisdictions last year.

Last June, Illumina sued BGI in the US, Switzerland, and Turkey, claiming that the firm's sequencing products, including the BGISEQ-500 and the MGISEQ-2000 platforms, infringe Illumina's US patents 7,566,537 and 9,410,200, both titled "Labelled Nucleotides," as well as its European '578 and '412 patents.

BGI countersued Illumina in the US in October, claiming that the NovaSeq 6000, HiSeq X Ten, HiSeq 3000, and HiSeq 4000 platforms infringe its US patent No. 9,944,984, "Methods and compositions for efficient base calling in sequencing reactions." Separately, BGI's US subsidiary Complete Genomics had sued Illumina last May, alleging that the NovaSeq, NextSeq, and MiniSeq platforms and associated reagents infringe its US Patent No. 9,222,132, which has the same title as its '984 patent.

Also, last March, Illumina sued BGI in Germany, alleging infringement of its European '578 patent.