SAN FRANCISCO -- Cetus Corp. won a major patent victoryWednesday in its federal jury trial against E. I. Du Pont deNemours &. Co. The jury found in favor of Cetus on all counts inupholding the validity of the company's two basic polymerasechain reaction (PCR) technology patents.

The verdict clears a path for Cetus' leading biotechmoneymaker, said Jim McCamant, editor of the MedicalTechnology Stock Letter in Berkeley, Calif. Du Pont will nowhave to stop selling its competing products, which went on themarket in March, McCamant said.

Next week the two sides will meet with Judge Marilyn HallPatel to schedule a second jury trial to decide whether Du Ponthas infringed Cetus' patents and to determine the amount ofdamages.

Du Pont, of Wilmington, Del., sued Emeryville, Calif.-basedCetus in August 1989, claiming Cetus' patents were invalidbased on prior art. Last June, Cetus countersued, alleginginfringement by Du Pont.

"It's not unusual for a big company to try to get into amarketplace via litigation," said Peter Staple, Cetus' vicepresident of legal affairs. "Du Pont may have felt we didn'thave the resources to defend ourselves." Staple estimates thatCetus has spent several million dollars on the case so far.

Du Pont hasn't yet decided whether to appeal the verdict, saidGeorge Frank, Du Pont's senior counsel.

PCR allows the generation of billions of copies of any targetedgene sequence in hours. The potential market for humandiagnostics use is estimated to reach $1.5 billion by 1998.

In a separate case, Cetus has charged Du Pont withinfringement of a third PCR patent. That suit was filed inDecember, and a date for hearings will also be set next week.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.