Twist rebuts 'opportunistic' lawsuit from Agilent
- Twist Bioscience, a San Francisco-based biotech specializing in DNA synthesis, has filed a rebuttal of allegations made by Agilent Technologies in a now year-old lawsuit accusing Twist's CEO of stealing trade secrets.
- In an affirmative defense document filed with the Superior Court of the State of California, Twist called Agilent's lawsuit "opportunistic" and laid out a 23-point defense of its actions and that of CEO Emily Leproust, who worked at Agilent for 13 years before joining Twist.
- Agilent had claimed Leproust stole information on its proprietary gene manufacturing technology, using it to propel Twist to financial success. Twist denies this version of events, defending its intellectual property as the work of founders Bill Banyai and Bill Peck.
Twist, which was founded by Banyai, Leproust and Peck in 2013, manufactures custom oligonucleotides into longer synthetic DNA constructs. It claims its technique for synthesizing DNA on silicon — rather than plastic plates — is more efficient and cost-effective.
As of January 2016, Twist had raised over $130 million in fundraising and has moved into commercialization.
But that success attracted attention from Leproust's former employer Agilent. In February 2016, Agilent accused Leproust stole proprietary gene manufacturing technology she had helped develop while working for Agilent for 13 years.
Agilent, a much larger global company, pointed towards Leproust's registration of a domain name for Twist while working at Agilent as evidence of her intent to capitalize on proprietary information. Agilent also claimed Twist would have been unable to so rapidly develop its technology without using proprietary information from Agilent.
For its part, Twist sees an attempt to stifle a new start-up and protect its market.
"Agilent's complaint wrongly tries to suffocate the creation of new technology ... and to diminish the freedom of innovators and entrepreneurs to seek out more fulfilling work and succeed elsewhere," Twist wrote in its defense.
Twist's response alleges Agilent only turned to litigation once Twist had become established, and after its own technology didn't measure up.
"The timing of Agilent’s lawsuit is telling — only after waiting and watching Twist’s success, and failing to perform in the marketplace on its own, has Agilent turned to litigation," the document states.
Twist has retained the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to defend itself against Agilent.
- Twist Bioscience Answer to complaint
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