Janson George /
2 December 2021AmericasMuireann Bolger

BGI hit with $8m damages bill in patent dispute with Illumina

Illumina has secured an $8 million damages verdict against China-based  BGI Genomics, and its US subsidiary, MGI, in a dispute involving gene-sequencing patents.

On Tuesday, November 30, a jury at the  Northern District for the US District of California held that BGI and its subsidiaries had deliberately infringed the patent over a six year period.

The judgment affirmed the  decision delivered by Judge William Orrick earlier this year, who had awarded Illumina summary judgment on claims of infringement and a preliminary injunction.

The jury’s decision paves the way for Illumina to potentially increase its damages by three-fold. However, it also invalidated Illumina's patent, US number 7,541,444, titled “Modified nucleotides”.

California-based Illumina had accused BGI and its affiliates of “brazen infringement” when it discovered that the company would be selling its  CoolMPS product in the US.

It alleged that BGI’s product infringed the ‘444 patent as well as patents, US numbers 10,480,025 and 7,777,973, which cover genetic-sequencing machines. BGI countered that the patents were invalid.

"We are pleased to see that the jury invalidated the claim of [the '444 patent] asserted by Illumina," MGI said in a  statement following this week’s jury decision.

The company insisted that this patent contained the broadest of all the asserted claims and had the longest remaining life of the five asserted patents.

“With this result, MGI may potentially begin selling CoolMPS technology-based products in the US ten months earlier, by August 2022,” said the subsidiary.

“We firmly believe that MGI has not infringed any valid Illumina claim and are evaluating options for post-trial proceedings."

According to the company, a suit alleging that Illumina infringed two patents held by Complete Genomics, a US affiliate of MGI, will go to trial in April 2022.

LSIPR has approached Illumina for comment.

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