- San Diego-based Illumina, Inc this week announced a patent lawsuit against the British Oxford Nanopore Technologies for infringing on two patents Illumina holds for nanopore sequencing technology.
- In a statement, Oxford Nanopore said it viewed the suit as without merit and did not anticipate any disruption of its commercial activity.
- Illumina is far and away the dominant player in the market for DNA sequencing instruments, with 90% of all DNA processed on its machines, according to MIT Technology Review.
Oxford Nanopore has developed a new type of DNA sequencer which uses "nanopores" to read the DNA structure of the molecules it analyzes. DNA is analyzed by drawing molecules through a small pore, creating an electirical signal that allows the DNA sequence to be read.
The sequencing device, called MinION, is markedly smaller than Illumina's larger instruments. MinION is portable and plugs into the USB port of a laptop, giving it a huge advantage for work in the field or outside developed countries with strong laboratory networks. However, it isn't as accurate, misidentifying about 5-30% of the time, reports Nature.
Illumina is arguing it has exclusive license on the technology used in both MinION and a second device Oxford is developing. Notably, however, Illumina does not use the nanopore technology in its sequencers, relying on another technique instead. The company has filed suit with the U.S. International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
The CEO of Oxford, Dr. Gordon Sanghera, said "It is gratifying to have the commerical relevance of Oxford Nanopore products so publicly acknowledged by the market monopolist for NGS."
The lawsuit document can be found here (credit to MIT Technology Review for the document).
This post has been updated to include a quote from Oxford Nanopore's statement.