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Invitrogen wins appeal against Stratagene

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Carlsbad-based Invitrogen Corp. (Nasdaq: IVGN, News) , a maker of genomics research equipment, said Thursday that an appeals court ruled in its favor in a patent infringement case brought against Stratagene Inc. (Nasdaq: STGN, News)

The appeal overturned a decision by a federal district court in Texas and ruled that Stratagene infringed a patent involving a process that allows bacteria to absorb foreign DNA, or become "competent."

Invitrogen sued Stratagene and its related companies on Mar. 12, 2001, for infringement of Invitrogen's U.S. Patent No. 4,981,797 (the '797 patent). That patent covers a process to treat E.Coli cells to cause them to be more effective at absorbing foreign DNA, thereby becoming "competent."

Invitrogen said it offers 30 different types of competent cell products, which require obtaining a limited license for purchase. The company claimed that Stratagene never obtained a license for their competent cell products.

"Competent cells are a widely used, valuable tool in molecular biology research," said John Cottingham, senior vice president and general counsel for Invitrogen. "We are pleased at the Appellate Court's finding that Stratagene was using our patented methods in the manufacture of its competent cells products. We plan to vigorously pursue all available remedies for Stratagene's infringement of our intellectual property as this case proceeds in the District Court."

As a result, the case will go back to the district court level for continued proceedings.

Stratagene also recently lost an infringement suit against another competitor, Third Wave Technologies.

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