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Illumina Wins Patent Office Action, Invalidating Columbia University Patent on NGS

NEW YORK – Illumina has successfully challenged a patent awarded to Columbia University for next-generation sequencing technology, leading a US patent court to deem the claims unpatentable.

According to a final written decision released today, a three-judge PTAB panel ruled that Illumina had successfully shown in inter partes review (IPR) that both claims of US Patent No. 9,868,985, for a "Massive parallel method for decoding DNA and RNA," were unpatentable. The claims were deemed "obvious" over prior art, the judges wrote. 

The decision is the latest PTAB victory for Illumina against Columbia; the San Diego sequencing giant has prevailed in at least four other IPRs since 2018.

Columbia will likely be able to appeal today's PTAB decision. It has appealed four other IPR decisions to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Columbia and Illumina did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Columbia was awarded the '985 patent in 2018. It's unclear whether Columbia has sued Illumina for infringing that patent. However, Columbia has sued Illumina multiple times over patents for sequencing technology, beginning in 2012. Illumina countersued and also sued Qiagen, which had licensed patents from Columbia.

Columbia sued again in 2017, alleging infringement of US Patent No. 9,708,358, also entitled "Massive parallel method for decoding DNA and RNA."

Illumina petitioned for IPR of the '358 patent last year. In June the PTAB ruled its single claim was unpatentable, and it invalidated three other related patents after review. Columbia has appealed all four decisions.

In Monday afternoon trading on the Nasdaq, shares of Illumina were down just over 1 percent at $266.75.

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