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Columbia University Trustees Sue Illumina Over Patents

Columbia University’s trustees sued the biotechnology analysis firm Illumina Inc. and accuse it of infringing five U.S. patents for gene sequencing used in medical research.

Illumina is wrongly using the protected technology, assigned to New York’s Columbia, the school said in a complaint filed today in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

The patents, awarded since 2009, “are important to ongoing genomics research and discovery, particularly in the emerging field of personalized medicine, which seeks to use a patient’s own genomic DNA sequence information as the basis for individualized health care,” the university said.

Illumina, based in San Diego, is the subject of a $5.7 billion hostile takeover bid by Switzerland’s Roche Holding AG, an offer that expires on April 20, at $44.50 a share. Illumina fell 24 cents to $50.22 at 2:57 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

Columbia asked the court to award damages based on reasonable royalties and for an order to stop the infringement.

“We believe these claims are without merit, and we will defend against them vigorously,” Jennifer Temple, an Illumina spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Columbia v. Illumina, 1:12-cv-00376, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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