Illumina must fork over $96M in patent suit

Illumina lost a patent suit for technology used with its iScan gene sequencer.--Courtesy of Illumina

A Washington court ruled against Illumina ($ILMN) in a patent lawsuit Thursday, finding that the sequencing giant infringed on Syntrix Biosystems' intellectual property and ordering the company to pay out $96 million in damages.

The suit covers Illumina's BeadChip array, used in DNA and RNA analysis, which the court deemed to have infringed on Syntrix's similar technology. The $96 million figure is based on a royalty rate of 6% of BeadChip sales from 2005 to 2012.

Illumina maintains that it did nothing wrong, however, and the company plans to file post-trial motions in an effort to vacate the court's decision.

"We strongly disagree with this verdict and plan to appeal the present finding of infringement," Illumina CEO Jay Flatley said in a statement. "In the meantime, we will continue to sell the products that are the subject of this suit, and no damages will be payable to Syntrix until all appropriate appeals have been taken, which may take a number of years."

Flatley said the BeadChip technology was licensed from Tufts University way back in 1998 when Illumina was founded, claiming the company acted responsibly in light of Syntrix's patent. The technology is used in Illumina's iScan System, a genome-mapping tool for molecular diagnostics.

Even if Illumina's appeals fail, the company may have dodged a bullet when District Court Judge Benjamin Settle tossed out claims that Illumina's infringement was willful and that it misappropriated Syntrix's trade secrets.

- read Illumina's statement