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Oxford Nanopore Wins Infringement Complaint Brought by PacBio

This article has been updated to include comments from Pacific Biosciences.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The US International Trade Commission has determined that Oxford Nanopore Technologies' products do not infringe on patents related to single-molecule sequencing that are held by Pacific Biosciences.

PacBio filed a complaint with the US ITC in 2016, alleging that Oxford Nanopore's sales of the MinIon and PromethIon devices in the US were unlawful because they infringed on claims in US Patent No. 9,404,146 titled: Compositions and methods for nucleic acid sequencing. PacBio owns the '146 patent, which covers methods related to single-molecule sequencing using linked double-stranded nucleic acid templates in order to improve sequencing accuracy. PacBio also added US Patent No. 9,542,527 title: Compositions and methods for nucleic acid sequencing, which is a continuation of the '146 patent.

But the US ITC ruled this week that Oxford Nanopore did not infringe on PacBio's patents and has denied PacBio's request for an oral argument. In a statement on the company's website, Oxford Nanopore CEO Gordon Sanghera said that the company is "pleased" that PacBio "failed in this action to prevent Americans from choosing and benefitting from nanopore single-molecule real-time DNA sequencing."

In a statement, PacBio said that the decision by the US ITC was based on its interpretation of single-molecule sequencing as "limited to sequencing-by-synthesis approaches." As such, it ruled that Oxford Nanopore's approach was not single-molecule sequencing.

"We disagree with the present determination of non-infringement in this lawsuit, and note that the ITC's construction of the term 'single-molecule sequencing' is inconsistent with both the commonly understood meaning of that term as well as relevant US Supreme Court and Federal Circuit precedent," PacBio CEO Mike Hunkapiller said in the statement.

Hunkapiller noted that PacBio has the right to appeal the ITC decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and that it still has ongoing lawsuits that it brought against Oxford Nanopore in the US relating to three separate patents.

Those ongoing suits involve patents related to using an enzyme to control DNA translocation and another related to detecting multiple nucleic acid bases in a nanopore. In addition, Oxford Nanopore filed a lawsuit against PacBio in Europe.

Separately, Oxford Nanopore provided an update on its business and product development today, including the MinIon, PromethIon, and GridIon.