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Agilent and ABI settle over PCR patents

By Dr Matt Wilkinson , 20-Sep-2007

Applied Biosystems (ABI) has successfully protected more of its PCR (polymerase chain reaction) patents with Agilent agreeing to license its thermal cycler technology.

This latest settlement between Applied Biosystems and Agilent for patents regarding PCR-based technologies is just the latest in a seemingly never-ending tussle over intellectual property (IP) rights surrounding the technology.

 

 

 

The lawsuit was originally filed by Applied Biosystems (an Applera Corporation company) against Stratagene, which was acquired by Agilent earlier this year, alleging infringement of Applera's real-time thermal cycler instrument patents.

 

 

 

PCR and real-time PCR (RT-PCR) products play an important part of Applied Biosystems business, with its Taqman RT-PCR product lines accounting for a third ($704.6m) of the company's $2.093bn revenues in 2007.

 

 

 

Lawsuits between the company's had already resulted in injunctions against Stratagene in Germany and the Netherlands resulting in the company stopping sales of the equipment in those countries, lawsuits were still pending in the US and France.

 

 

 

The settlement will enable Agilent to continue to sell Stratagene's thermal cycler instruments used to control the reaction. In a separate agreement, Agilent has licensed technology relating to Agilent's PCR and RT-PCR enzymes and kits.

 

 

 

"The purpose of this settlement is to be able to offer our customers the Stratagene thermal cycler products without any restrictions or threat of future litigation," said Stuart Matlow, press relations specialist at Agilent.

 

 

"The way that Agilent, and now Stratagene, do business is that we like to have clear rights to the IP of our products."

 

 

 

The patents in dispute were EU Patent 872562 and US Patent 6,814,934, and were the same patents that Applied Biosystems brought a lawsuit against Bio-Rad over. That lawsuit was settled by Bio-Rad with Applied Biosystems earlier this year in May.

 

 

 

Prior to the May 2007settlement, the European Patent Office (EPO) had revoked the patent, before reinstating it in July 2006.

 

 

 

Interestingly, in August 2006, the Japanese Supreme Court ruled that its Japanese patent for the same technology, JP 3136129, was invalid in a final, non-appealable decision.

 

 

 

This latest settlement comes less than two week after Enzo Biochem's lawsuit against Applera, alleging breach of various genotyping patents, was dismissed in a summary judgement.

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