Idexx Laboratories Inc. and the University of California (UC)have filed suit in the U.S. District Court in San Diego, chargingSynbiotics Corp. with infringing U.S. Patent No. 5,118,602,which relates to methods for diagnosing felineimmunodeficiency virus (FIV), Idexx announced Thursday.

The Westbrook, Maine, company (NASDAQ:IDXX) is theexclusive licensee of the patent, which is owned by the UCregents.

Idexx and UC have also moved for a preliminary injunctionagainst Synbiotics of San Diego.

Synbiotics markets its FIV diagnostic product asViracheck/FIV; it also markets a diagnostic for feline leukemia(Viracheck/FeLV). According to Idexx, in related litigationinvolving the patent, Synbiotics has admitted that it infringesthe patent, but has challenged its validity.

The present suit also alleges that Synbiotics' infringement hasbeen willful, and seeks trebled damages and related attorney'sfees for Synbiotics' admitted infringement.

Idexx markets diagnostics for a broad range of veterinaryapplications. It offers a line of membrane filter-based, non-instrumented test kits to veterinary clinics and animalhospitals for disease detection, including its Cite (concentrationimmunoassay technology) and Cite Probe products to detectfeline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Idexx alsooffers a combination test for both viruses. -- Jennifer VanBrunt

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