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By Melissa Trudinger, Australian Biotechnology News

October 15, 2003 |  MELBOURNE -- Genetic Technologies (GTG) is taking on three big guns in the biotechnology industry, seeking damages and legal fees stemming from the alleged infringement of a patent governing the use of noncoding DNA (see Playing by Aussie Rules, Aug. 2003 Bio-IT World, page 24).

GTG filed two lawsuits on March 26, 2003, in San Francisco against three U.S. companies that had each been on notice for infringement of the company's controversial noncoding DNA patents for around a year. The cases have since been moved to the U.S. District Court, where they are still in the early part of the legal process.

One of the lawsuits is against Applera, the parent company of Applied Biosystems and Celera Genomics. The lawsuit particularly applies to diagnostic cystic fibrosis mutation detection tests developed by Celera Diagnostics, a joint venture between Applied Biosystems and Celera Genomics.

The other lawsuit has been filed against contract research organization Covance, as well as Variagenics, which last year merged with Hyseq to form Nuvelo. Again, the lawsuit applies to a number of diagnostic tests developed by the two companies.

U.S. patent 5,612,179 -- “Intron Sequence Analysis Method for Detection of Adjacent and Remote Locus Alleles as Haplotypes” -- is the subject of both complaints. The patent was first filed in 1992, and granted in March 1997. Under the U.S. legal system, a company found to have willfully infringed on another's patents may be liable for treble damages.

GTG executive chairman Mervyn Jacobson said it would not be appropriate to make any comments while the legal proceedings were in the hands of the court.


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