Sequenom scores a blow against Illumina in prenatal Dx patent fight

Sequenom ($SQNM) scored against Illumina's ($ILMN) Verinata Health in a ruling at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office involving noninvasive prenatal genetic diagnostic tech. Wasting no time, executives plan to use that decision as a weapon in an ongoing legal battle between the two California companies.

Sequenom disclosed details of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision in a recent regulatory filing, which favored the company and cast doubt on Verinata's patent claims. GenomeWeb wrote about the highlights. At issue: whether Sequenom patents licensed exclusively from the Chinese University of Hong Kong trump those of Verinata Health, which relies on Stanford University's Quake patents. Specifically, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued its decision on four "patent interference proceedings," and the issues involve DNA sequencing. Both sides use it for prenatal tests involving chromosomal abnormalities including Down syndrome.

Stay tuned. By no means is the battle finished yet. This patent decision is simply ammunition to continue the fight. Sequenom said it will make sure the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California considers the patent rulings. Verinata is pursuing a patent infringement lawsuit against Sequenom in that court, so it will be interesting to see the ultimate outcome.

Sequenom could use a victory. Last fall, Ariosa Diagnostics crushed the company in a federal court fight over a key patent involving prenatal genetic testing, though Sequenom insisted it would appeal.

Prenatal genetic testing has become a hot space, with Natera also clamoring for a piece of the market.

- read Sequenom's regulatory filing
- here's GenomeWeb's take (sub. req.)

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