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Illumina Obtains Preliminary Injunction Against BGI

NEW YORK – A US federal court judge has granted Illumina a preliminary injunction that will prevent BGI and its subsidiaries, including MGI, from distributing and promoting its sequencing platforms in the US.

Illumina requested the preliminary injunction in February, noting that BGI was planning to launch a no-cost trial program for key opinion leaders. In an order issued June 13, Judge William Orrick of the US District Court for the Northern District of California granted Illumina the injunction, with the caveat that BGI's sample preparation products likely did not infringe and would thus not be included. Both BGI sequencers using the standard MPS chemistry and the new CoolMPS chemistry will be enjoined.

The injunction relates to two lawsuits in which Illumina has alleged that BGI sequencers, including the MGISEQ-T7, DNBSEQ-G400 (previously MGISEQ-2000), DNBSEQ-G50, BGISEQ-500, and BGISEQ-50 infringe Illumina's sequencing-by-synthesis patents, specifically US Patent Nos. 7,541,444; 7,566,537; 7,771,973; 9,410,200; and 10,480,025. Illumina has also alleged that certain BGI sample preparation reagents infringe those patents.

"Illumina has established a likelihood of infringement in both cases. Moreover, BGI has failed to identify significant questions as to the validity of Illumina's patents, several of which have been challenged and found to be valid in the past," Orrick wrote. "I further find that Illumina would suffer irreparable harm as a result of BGI's infringing activities."

"We are pleased with the court's decision," Charles Dadswell, senior VP and general counsel for Illumina, said in a statement. "It validates that BGI has blatantly copied Illumina's proprietary sequencing chemistry."

"MGI respects the court's ruling on Illumina's request for a preliminary injunction, but we do not agree with this decision and we are evaluating our options including an immediate appeal of this ruling," a company spokesperson said in an email. "MGI believes Illumina's request for the temporary ban is an obvious attempt by Illumina to maintain its monopolistic market position and suppress the development of the industry for as long as possible."

"MGI also looks forward to the final decision on this matter after a full trial on the merits has occurred. In the meantime, the results of this judgment will not affect MGI's business operations outside the US," the spokesperson said.

Illumina filed the first suit related to the injunction in June 2019, alleging infringement of patents covering the firm's sequencing-by-synthesis chemistry. BGI countersued in October 2019; the court narrowed that suit but allowed BGI's allegations of induced infringement to proceed. Illumina also filed a lawsuit in February, alleging that BGI's new CoolMPS chemistry also infringes Illumina patents.

BGI's US-based subsidiary Complete Genomics has also sued Illumina, alleging patent infringement of two-color sequencing technology.

In addition, Illumina has sued BGI in several other countries including Switzerland, Turkey, and Denmark.