A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

SonoSite (Bothell Washington), a developer of hand-carried ultrasound, on Friday reported the resolution of a lawsuit filed against the company last year by General Electric (GE; Fairfield, Connecticut) in federal district court in Madison, Wisconsin.

SonoSite said that following the trial court's summary judgment rulings on July 24, the parties agreed to dismiss the remaining claims, thereby resolving the entirety of the case in the district court and therefore not needing a trial. The parties have retained their rights to appeal the trial court's decisions, Sonosite said.

GE alleged that SonoSite had infringed six of its patents relating to ultrasound technology. SonoSite denied infringement, and it issued counterclaims, alleging that GE infringed four of its ultrasound patents and that GE's patents were invalid.

SonoSite said that Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in its favor on five of the six patents that GE had asserted. It said the court ruled that one of GE's patents is invalid and that SonoSite products do not infringe the other four GE patents. "The court also ruled in GE's favor on two of SonoSite's patents finding that GE did not infringe those two patents. At that time, the court did not rule on the two remaining SonoSite patents and one remaining GE patent," SonoSite said in a statement.

Kevin Goodwin, SonoSite president/CEO, said, "We have always believed that GE's allegations of patent infringement were baseless and without merit and the trial court's July rulings confirmed that. As with this first lawsuit, we strongly believe that there is no legal basis for a second lawsuit that GE filed against us this year in May. We will proceed firmly ahead to defend our legal rights."

GE filed the second patent lawsuit against SonoSite in the same federal district court in Madison, Wisconsin, on May 22, 2008, seeking to invalidate SonoSite's U.S patent 5,722, 412 relating to digital ultrasound weighing less than 10 pounds. That case is scheduled for trial in June 2009, with Judge Crabb presiding.

In other legalities: Qiagen (Venlo, the Netherlands) and Idaho Technology (Salt Lake City) reported reaching a settlement agreement for rights to a suite of intellectual property relating to Corbett Life Science's (Sidney, Australia) Rotor-Gene instruments. The settlement preceded Qiagen's acquisition of Corbett, which was disclosed Friday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The agreement covers Idaho Technology patents surrounding rapid polymerase chain reaction methods and instrumentation, the use of SYBR Green I in PCR reactions, melting curve analysis (rights obtained through Roche Diagnostics [Basel, Switzerland]), analysis methods of DNA melting data, specifically high resolution melting (HRM), and others.

The companies also agreed to jointly file a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice with the District Court in Salt Lake City to end the pending legal proceedings.

The settlement follows Idaho Technology's January 2007 settlement with Cepheid (Sunnyvale, California) involving similar intellectual property and extends Idaho Technology's program, the company noted.

"We are pleased with this settlement which was a condition for our transaction with Corbett and which provides customers of Corbett cyclers and Qiagen the key freedom to operate elements required to develop, market and operate performance leading real-time PCR detection technologies based on Corbett's innovative Rotor-Gene solutions", said Peer Schatz, CEO of Qiagen.

"Idaho Technology is a company built on innovation; we are pleased to have reached a settlement with Qiagen/Corbett and we look forward to working with Qiagen. Protecting our intellectual property will continue to be exceedingly important to our business," said Randy Rasmussen, president of Idaho Technology.