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Invitrogen files patent lawsuit

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Carlsbad-based Invitrogen Corp. (Nasdaq: IVGN) has filed a patent lawsuit against Oxford Biomedical Research Inc. and Vanderbilt University in the U.S. District Court in western Wisconsin.

Invitrogen is asking the court to rule on the scope of Vanderbilt’s patent relating to cytochrome P450 recombinant protein technology, which Invitrogen uses in some of its products.

The court’s decision will affect a licensing and supply agreement Invitrogen has with Rochester Hills, Mich.-based Oxford.

According to court documents, Oxford maintains that the agreement expires in 2016, when the patent expires. Invitrogen states it is no longer subject to the contract — which dates back to 1996 — based on a clause specifying the agreement would end in 10 years if no patent had been issued.

Invitrogen asserts that Vanderbilt’s patent only covers the purification process of the protein rather than the cell culture host materials themselves and thus does not qualify as the patent described in the agreement.

An Invitrogen spokesman said the company had no comment.

Litigation between Invitrogen and Oxford extends back to 2005, when Oxford filed a lawsuit against Invitrogen for breach of contract. That case is still open and is set for a December hearing in the federal court in eastern Michigan.

“This (new lawsuit) seems to be a desperate attempt to delay the trial in Detroit,” said Denis Callewaert, Oxford’s founder and president.

Callewaert said that he felt the university should not have been named as a defendant and any countersuit should have been incorporated into the pending litigation in Michigan. Oxford plans to file a response, he said.

A spokesman for Vanderbilt said the university had no comment.

A trial date has not been set in the Wisconsin federal court. Invitrogen has requested a trial by jury.

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