San Diego’s Sequenom Sues Aria Diagnostics for Patent Infringement

March 2, 2012, by Mandour & Associates, APC

San Diego – San Diego-based life sciences company Sequenom has sued Aria Diagnostics for patent infringement alleging that the San Jose-based company infringed on its patent to detect abnormal chromosomes in utero.

First introduced to the public in October 2011, Sequenom’s MaterniT21 prenatal blood test can detect a genetic chromosomal anomaly known as Trisomy 21, the most common cause for Down Syndrome. The test also has the capability to detect trisomies 18 and 13, which are often the cause of severe birth defects. Although it has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the MaterniT21 test is close to 99% accurate in detecting the anomalies, according to Sequenom’s website.

Following its patent infringement complaint filed in late January against Aria, Sequenom filed a motion for preliminary injunction to bar Aria from manufacturing, marketing, and distributing its new Harmony Prenatal Test. In the lawsuit, Sequenom contends that Aria’s alleged infringement of its Patent No. 6,258,540 was “intentional, deliberate, and willful.”

Founded in San Diego in 1994, Sequenom maintains that its Center for Molecular Medicine was the first to develop a noninvasive diagnostic laboratory test to screen for chromosomal aneuploidy in pregnant women. Aria’s Harmony Prenatal Test was announced to the public in early February and is described as a new technology to efficiently analyze patients’ blood samples with a noninvasive approach to cell-free DNA analysis in maternal blood to detect common trisomies linked to genetic disorders.

In addition to its patent infringement complaint against Aria, Sequenom has filed another complaint against genetic testing company Natera for allegedly infringing the same patent. The lawsuit accuses Natera’s noninvasive paternity test, which analyzes fragments of fetal DNA in maternal plasma from a blood sample, of infringing the MaterniT21 patent and claims that Natera “knowingly encouraged others” to infringe when it licensed its test to paternity testing lab DNA Diagnostics Center.

In both lawsuits, Sequenom is requesting judgments that both companies willfully infringed the MaterniT21 patent and a permanent injunction that would stop the defendants from infringing the patented technology. Sequenom is also reportedly asking for monetary damages sufficient to compensate the company for the infringement, attorneys’ fees, and for costs incurred because of the lawsuit, specifically “increased damages” that are “not less than three times the amount of actual damages awarded to Sequenom due to the companies’ willful infringement.”