Illumina prevails against BGI at English High Court


Muireann Bolger

Illumina prevails against BGI at English High Court

Michael Vi /

Illumina has secured a victory in its patent dispute with Chinese genome sequencing company BGI at the English High Court, which ruled that four of its patents had been infringed.

Following the decision, handed down yesterday, January 20, by Justice Colin Birss, Illumina has confirmed that it intends to seek a permanent injunction to halt the supply or sale of BGI’s StandardMPS and CoolMPS systems in the UK until the relevant patents expire.

In January 2020, the California-based biotech filed a patent infringement suit against BGI  and its subsidiaries MGI Tech Co, Latvia MGI, MGI International Sales, and BGI Complete Genomics Hong Kong at the High Court.

According to Illumina, the companies infringed five of its patents, numbers EP 1 530 578 B1, EP 3 002 289 B1, EP 3 587 433 B1, EP 2 021 415 B and EP 1 828 412. BGI countered by claiming that the patents were invalid.

The disputed patents cover aspects of Illumina’s rapid DNA sequencing process. Judge Birss found that four of the five asserted patents were valid and infringed by BGI’s StandardMPS and CoolMPS systems. However, he held that the ‘412 patent was invalid because it was obvious over prior art.

In summing up, Justice Birss concluded that it was indisputable that BGI was using a molecule patented by Illumina. “A striking point is that despite the narrow scope of this claim, MGI infringes it. MGI is using the claimed molecule,” he said.

He added that while BGI had offered some submissions about how the use of the molecule came about, this was unsupported by evidence and did not take away “from the fact that MGI are using the claimed molecule in their commercial sequencing by synthesis systems”.

The court had previously issued a preliminary injunction against BGI’s UK-based sequencing laboratory and restricted BGI’s ability to supply the infringing sequencing systems in the UK.

In June, Illumina announced that the US District Court for the Northern District of California granted an injunction in two patent infringement suits the company had filed against BGI.

Commenting on yesterday’s ruling, Charles Dadswell, senior vice-president and general counsel for Illumina, said: “This adds to the growing list of courts around the world finding that BGI has misappropriated Illumina’s proprietary, groundbreaking technology. We will continue to vigorously protect our IP from BGI’s willful infringement.”

Courts in the US, Germany, Spain, Finland and Sweden have issued injunctions on Illumina’s behalf against BGI. Additional lawsuits concerning Illumina and BGI are pending in China, France, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Turkey and Italy.

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Illumina, BGI, English High Court, patents, infringement, genome sequencing, biotechnology, molecule