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19 May 2015Americas

Illumina sues Ariosa over DNA testing patent

Californian genetic analysis company Illumina has sued Ariosa Diagnostics for allegedly infringing a patent through its Harmony Prenatal Test.

Illumina filed its complaint yesterday (May 18) at the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Roche-owned Ariosa’s Harmony test is a prenatal blood test for detecting whether a baby has Down’s syndrome.

The test uses a method of DNA sequencing called massively parallel sequencing, which is sometimes called next-generation sequencing. In a  scientific paper, Ariosa refers to the method used in the Harmony test as ‘DANSR’.

In April 2014 Illumina sued Ariosa accusing it of infringing its US patent 7,955,794 with the DANSR technique. That case is still pending.

Last year, Ariosa started developing a new version of the Harmony test that used microarrays, a different method of DNA analysis, rather than massively parallel sequencing.

In September 2014 it published  a paper about the new method, and later that year applied for a patent covering the method. The application included references to the September paper.

But Illumina argued in yesterday’s court filing that the new version of the Harmony test as described in the patent application uses the DANSR technique, which it considers to be infringing, “albeit with a microarray rather than massively parallel sequencing”.

Illumina has asked for a judgment that Ariosa has infringed the ‘794 patent, for a permanent injunction stopping it from further infringing the patent, and for trebled damages, as it alleged Ariosa’s infringement has been “wilful and deliberate”.

Illumina said in a statement that it is seeking all available remedies.

Roche declined to comment.

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