A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

Innogenetics (Gent, Belgium) reported that a U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Wisconsin affirmed a previously awarded $7 million damage verdict against Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, Illinois) for infringing Innogentics’ HCV genotyping patent. In the same ruling the judge rejected Abbott’s requests for a new trial on infringement and validity.

The Jan. 3 order also granted Innogenetics’ motion for prejudgment interest on the damage award and set a Jan. 11 evidentiary hearing date to consider the company’s request for a permanent injunction against Abbott’s sale of infringing products.

The judge’s opinion vacated the jury’s determination that Abbott willfully infringed Innogenetics’ patent, and declined to award enhanced damages or attorneys fees.

“By upholding the jury’s award of damages, today’s ruling sends a message to companies large and small that mistakenly believe they can misappropriate others’ innovations without regard for the law,” said Frank Morich, CEO of Innogenetics.

The litigation began in September 2005 when Innogenetics filed suit against Abbott Laboratories alleging that Abbott was infringing the company’s U.S. patent covering a method of genotyping the Hepatitis C Virus (U.S. Patent No. 5,846,704, “the ‘704 patent”). Innogentics said that diagnostic companies such as Bayer, Roche and Third Wave Technologies have taken a license to this patent in the field of HCV genotyping.

On Sept. 1, 2006, a jury returned a unanimous verdict for Innogenetics that the ‘704 patent was valid in all respects. On Sept. 8, 2006, the jury unanimously found that Abbott’s actions had been willful, and directed Abbott to pay Innogenetics $7 million in damages related to the infringement to date.

Today’s ruling was on post-trial motions filed by Abbott seeking a new trial, and Innogenetics’ motions seeking an injunction against Abbott as well as enhanced damages and attorneys fees.

Innogenetics is a biopharmaceutical company building, it says, “parallel” businesses in the areas of specialty diagnostics and therapeutic vaccines.

In 2005, total revenues reached EUR48.6 million, with a profitable Specialty Diagnostics Division. Its Diagnostics Division develops specialty products covering three areas: infectious diseases (hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV), genetic testing (HLA tissue typing and cystic fibrosis), and neuron-degeneration (Alzheimer’s disease).