UK separations specialist Whatman has decided to wind down the operations of its German subsidiary Biometra Biomedizinische Analytik, which makes laboratory instruments and thermocyclers. The UK form has decided that Biometra lies outside its core interests in separation and filtration technologies.
Whatman's first intention had been to sell the business, but this strategy hit a major obstacle when Biometra got involved in a legal dispute with Applied Biosystems in which the latter company laid down charges of patent infringement. This dispute, which relates to Biometra's thermocycler products, is ongoing.
"The commercial prospects of the business are poor," said Whatman. This is partly due to the shadow cast over Biometra's thermocycler technology by the patent litigation, but also because the company's products do not offer real-time or quantitative polymerase chain reaction technology.
Thermocyclers are used to generate and maintain specific temperatures for a defined period of time in order to synthesise or amplify DNA molecules. The lack of quantitative PCR capabilities on Biometra's thermocyclers means that they are unsuitable for use in genotyping studies.
Whatman will take a charge of £10.1 million (€14.7m) in this year's accounts relating to the liquidation.