Enzo Sues Roche, Life Technologies, Gen-Probe Over Patent for Gene Assays

Enzo Life Sciences, which makes products used to genetically screen for disease, sued rivals Roche Diagnostics Corp., Life Technologies Corp. (LIFE) and Gen-Probe Inc. (GPRO) claiming infringement of a U.S. patent.

The unit of New York-based Enzo Biochem (ENZ) contends Roche, of Indianapolis; Life, of Carlsbad, California; and Gen-Probe, of San Diego, are wrongly using gene assays to detect HIV and other disorders before the 2006 patent expires.

Enzo “has the right to sue and recover damages for any current or past infringement” of the patent, its lawyers said in three separate complaints filed Jan. 30 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court (1000L) refused to hear an appeal by Life Technologies, letting Enzo Biochem Inc. press ahead with a separate patent-infringement suit over a way to detect genetic sequences and diagnose human diseases, including cancer. The justices left intact a federal appeals court ruling that revived two Enzo patents invalidated by a trial court. Life Technologies and its Applera unit argued unsuccessfully that the patents weren’t specific enough in their description of the claimed invention.

Suzanne Clancy, a Life Technologies spokeswoman, declined to comment on today’s lawsuit. Michael Watts of Gen-Probe didn’t immediately return voice and e-mail messages seeking comment.

Roche ‘Confident’

“We are reviewing this matter and are confident of our position,” Robin Snyder, a spokeswoman for Roche, said in an e-mail. “Beyond that, we are not able to comment on pending litigation.”

Enzo reported $102 million in sales and a $16 million net loss for the 12-month period ending Oct. 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. For the fiscal year ended July 31, Enzo had losses of less than $13 million and revenue of $102 million.

Enzo rose 4.1 percent to $2.80 in trading in New York at 4:02 p.m. Its shares have fallen about 45 percent in the past year.

Roche parent Roche Holding AG (ROG) of Basel, Switzerland, with about $48 billion in annual sales, is the world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs. Its shares fell 40 centimes to 153 Swiss francs in trading in Switzerland today.

Life Technologies had almost $3.7 billion in revenue for the year ended Sept. 30.

Gen-Probe, with about $554 million in revenue for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, makes tests for sexually transmitted diseases and blood screening. Its shares recently have been trading in the upper $60 range and were raised to the “outperform” rating by RBC Capital Markets last month with a 12-month target of $72 a share.

The cases are Enzo v. Roche, 12-cv-00106; Enzo v. Life Technologies, 12-cv-00105; and Enzo v. Gen-Probe, 12-cv-00104, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To see the patent, click: 6,992,180.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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