Helicos slaps PacBio with patent lawsuit

Helicos Biosciences has hit fundraising superstar Pacific Biosciences with a patent infringement lawsuit alleging that Pacific's SMRT single-molecule DNA sequencing technology violates a number of Helicos' patents.

The lawsuit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for Delaware, accuses Pacific of infringing two patents Helicos owns and another two it licenses, covering sequencing-by-synthesis methods that use labeled nucleotides to analyze single strands of DNA.

Pacific was quick to defend itself against the accusations. "Helicos' patents are directed to methods used in their second generation 'flush and scan' system, and even at that, do not represent the earliest publication of those concepts," says Pacific Chairman and CEO Hugh Martin. "Our third generation SMRT technology observes single molecules in real time, a fundamentally different approach."

Pacific says it cannot guarantee any particular outcome in this case, but it believes that Helicos' claims are without merit and will vigorously defend against the claims asserted in the complaint.

- see Pacific's statement
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