Switzerland's Roche is subject to a fresh legal challenge over its patent position in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, used in both clinical diagnosis and drug discovery.
Applera Corp, the parent of life sciences instrumentation and reagent company Applied Biosystems, has filed a complaint against Roche in the Calfornia Superior Court in San Mateo, USA. The nature of the complaint has yet to be divulged, but Applied Bio has sold PCR technologies licensed from Roche, including the Taq DNA polymerase enzyme central to PCR, for several years.
Earlier this year, the the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Court overturned a lower court ruling that had invalidated Roche's patent on Taq for PCR in a suit brought by Promega.
At the time, observers expressed fears that Roche's newly-affirmed intellectual property position in Taq may lead to price increases and a higher royalty rate from resellers.
"PCR, a technology for amplifying and analysing DNA, is an enabling technology for biological research, and rights to PCR are part of the intellectual property estate of Applera," said Michael Hunkapiller, president of Applied Bio and senior vice president of Applera.
"With these actions, Applera is seeking to protect its rights to PCR and obtain fair value from these rights. Because contract disputes in our field are often complex, barring a settlement, it may take some time before these actions will be resolved by the courts and by arbitration," he added.