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Illumina Challenges Rival's Patent
Oct 2005
SAN DIEGO, Oct. 25 -- Illumina Inc., a developer of technology and kits used in genetic research, has made a formal filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) over a patent rival Affymetrix obtained through its recent acquisition of ParAllele BioScience, a maker of genetic analysis products. Illumina says the invention at issue -- molecular inversion probe genotyping technology -- while not being used by the company, was created by Illumina scientists during early research and development.

Molecular inversion probes produce highly specific genotyping results. The technology can be used to study potential biomarkers for diseases like cancer. Illumina is requesting Interference, which is a proceeding instituted by the USPTO for determining priority between two parties claiming the same invention. The party identified as the first to invent is ultimately awarded ownership and entitlement to the invention under US patent law. Illumina says it filed a patent application prior to ParAllele for the same technology, and expects to be named the "senior party" at the proceeding on that basis, placing the burden of proof on Affymetrix and ParAllele to establish an earlier invention date.

In March 2005, San Francisco-based ParAllele announced the issuance of the molecular inversion probe patent, which it said is used in its MegAllele genotyping system. The patent is owned by Stanford University and was exclusively licensed to ParAllele.

Affymetrix, based in Santa Clara, Calif., uses a photolithographic manufacturing process to make its micoarrays used in genetic research. The company completed its acquisition of ParAllele on Oct. 21, in a deal worth approximately $132 million in cash and Affymetrix common stock. The companies then said they would immediately begin offering new genotyping products based on ParAllele's technology.

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