Illumina Sues Affymetrix for Patent Infringement of Genetic Analysis Technology

5/5/09

Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN), the San Diego-based developer of genetic analysis systems, said today it has filed a patent infringement suit in federal court in Madison, WI, against Affymetrix (NASDAQ: AFFX), the Santa Clara, CA-based maker of semiconductor-based “GeneChip” technology.

The suit asserts that a variety of array plate products and a related scanner sold by Affymetrix infringe on a patent Illumina was awarded earlier this year for “making and using composite arrays for the detection of a plurality of target analytes.” An array plate enables scientists to analyze many gene samples at the same time. Illumina, which refers to the patent issued March 31st, as the “841″ patent, wants a federal judge to prevent Affymetrix from making and selling its plate arrays, and for unspecified monetary damages.

affymetrix-ht_array_platesIn a filing submitted today to the SEC, Affymetrix said Illumina’s “claims are without merit” and added that the Northern California company “will vigorously defend against them.” Affymetrix and Illumina last year settled a patent dispute when Illumina agreed to pay $90 million to Affymetrix without admitting fault.

MIT and E8 Pharmaceuticals, a biotech formed by two Boston professors, filed a patent suit against Affymetrix last July that alleged Affymetrix was infringing on another patent, the “228″ patent. As Xconomy reported, MIT professor and E8 co-founder David Housman, a pioneer in forensic DNA analysis, compared their patent filing with an Affymetrix’ product manual, saying, “they are one and the same thing.”

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