[Ip-health] Reuters: Columbia University sues Illumina over DNA patents

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Mon Mar 26 11:17:37 PDT 2012



Columbia University sues Illumina over DNA patents

Jonathan Stempel

11:35 AM CDT, March 26, 2012

(Reuters) - Illumina Inc, a gene-mapping company facing a $5.7 billion
hostile takeover bid by Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG, was sued by
Columbia University on Monday for allegedly infringing five patents
related to DNA sequencing.

According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in
Wilmington, Delaware, Illumina commercialized its so-called
next-generation sequencing (NGS) products despite knowing about the
patents, obtained between 2009 and 2012 and assigned to Columbia.

The university said its patents cover NGS technologies that allow
rapid and precise DNA sequencing, which are particularly important in
using individuals' genomic DNA sequence information as a basis for
providing health care.

Illumina makes products that decode a person's entire genome.
Spokesman Matt Benson had no immediate comment.

Each patent has several inventors, including Columbia chemical
engineering professor Jingyue Ju, according to the complaint. The
university is seeking royalties, triple damages and other remedies.

"Columbia is proud of the outstanding research efforts of its faculty
and will defend its patented technology," university spokesman Robert
Hornsby said.

The university filed its complaint hours after Roche extended its $5.7
billion cash takeover bid for Illumina. The bid values the San
Diego-based company at $44.50 per share, but Illumina considers the
offer "grossly inadequate.

Acquiring the company would give Basel, Switzerland-based Roche a
leading position in gene sequencing, which could help better identify
patients who might benefit from using particular drugs.

Illumina in 2011 posted profit of $86.6 million on revenue of $1.06 billion.

In its annual report, the company projected that expansion in the
sequencing market and its product portfolio would drive demand for its
technology over the next several years.

Analysts expect Roche to raise its takeover bid, and shares of
Illumina have traded above $44.50 since the original bid became public
on January 25.

In afternoon trading, Illumina shares were down 31 cents at $50.15 on
the Nasdaq.

The case is Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York v.
Illumina Inc, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware, No. 12-00376.

(Reporting By Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by
Caroline Copley in Zurich; editing by John Wallace and Gerald E.

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