Siemens sues Enzo over patent on nucleic acid hybridization assay technology

Siemens seeks to overturn a decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this year giving Enzo rights over the assay technology

Jeffrey Bouley
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WORCESTER, Mass.—On July 9, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts became the battleground on which to attempt to reverse a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruling earlier this year, as Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics filed the lawsuit Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Inc. v. Enzo Life Sciences, Inc.

In February, the USPTO ruled in favor of Enzo over US Patent No. 5,124,246, held by Siemens, granting Enzo rights over a nucleic acid hybridization assay technology. Siemens is now suing Enzo in an attempt to overturn those rights.

The patent, which was issued in June 1992, had been held by Bayer HealthCare but was transferred to Siemens when it acquired the Bayer unit in 2006. Chiron originally filed the patent application for the technology in 1989 and Bayer acquired the technology when it bought Chiron. Back in 1983, however, Enzo had filed an application for its own signal amplification technology.

In August 2006, the USPTO declared a patent interference in order to determine the originator of the technology and ultimately declared Enzo the winner in that dispute.

Although Siemens sought a rehearing on the case, the USPTO's Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences denied that request just two months ago.

The Siemens lawsuit claims that the USPTO "erroneously ruled that Enzo invented the technology in question before Siemens," asserting in its complaint that even though Enzo filed its patent application in 1983, it had "abandoned each of these applications without a single claim ever issuing as a patent and refiled them as continuing applications…As a result, Enzlo artificially and illegally extended the potential expiration date of any patent that might result from these applications."

The Siemens complaint goes on to notes that if Enzo is awarded the patent covering the technology "after the unreasonable and inexcusable 23-year delay in prosecution, Enzo would profit from its undue delay to the detriment of both the public and Siemens."

Jeffrey Bouley

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