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Pacific Biosciences Sues Oxford Nanopore for Patent Infringement

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Pacific Biosciences filed a lawsuit against Oxford Nanopore Technologies last week, alleging that the firm infringes on a patent it holds related to single-molecule sequencing.

PacBio filed the suit in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, saying that Oxford Nanopore infringes on US Patent No. 9,546,400, "Nanopore sequencing using n-mers." Claims in the patent — which was issued on Jan. 17 —  relate to measuring a template nucleic acid as it translocates through a nanopore where the signal is based on the detection of three or more bases present in the nanopore at one time, and then deconvoluting the signal to determine the identity of one specific base. 

In the suit, PacBio alleges that Oxford Nanopore's MinIon and PromethIon devices both infringe on a number of the claims in the '400 patent, and that Oxford Nanopore infringes on the patent and also induces its customers to infringe on the patent by making and selling the instruments.

PacBio is also claiming that Oxford's infringement has "injured PacBio in its business and property rights." PacBio is requesting that Oxford be permanently enjoined from further infringement, and is also demanding an award of damages, costs, and attorneys' fees.

In response to the suit, Oxford CEO Gordon Sanghera released a statement assuring the firm's customers that there would be no changes in service. "We believe this is another frivolous lawsuit brought by a competitor nervous about our superior technology," he said. "I would like to assure all our customers that this and other actions will not disrupt our commercial operations."

Last year PacBio filed a separate lawsuit against Oxford Nanopore with the US International Trade Commission, alleging that it infringed on US Patent No. 9,404,146, "Compositions and methods for nucleic acid sequencing." That patent, which was issued in August 2016, covers single-molecule sequencing methods related to using linked double-stranded nucleic acid templates to improve accuracy.