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Pacific Biosciences Denies Helicos' Infringement Claims

This article has been updated to correct the anticipated commercial launch date for Pacific Biosciences' system.

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Pacific Biosciences today said that it believes the patent infringement claims brought against the company last week by Helicos Biosciences are without merit and that it intends to vigorously defend against the claims.

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.

"Helicos' patents are directed to methods used in their second generation 'flush and scan' system, and even at that, do not represent the earliest publication of those concepts," Hugh Martin, Pacific Biosciences' chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "Our third generation SMRT technology observes single molecules in real time, a fundamentally different approach."

Menlo Park, Calif.-based PacBio is gearing up for a commercial launch in early 2011 of its RS sequencing instrument. Among customers who have placed orders for the system are Baylor College of Medicine, the Broad Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, The Genome Center at Washington University, Monsanto, the National Cancer Institute, the National Center for Genome Resources, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Stanford University, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

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