Major Victory for Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc.

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July 2012

On July 5, 2012, Judge Illston of the Northern District of California denied a motion for preliminary injunction filed by Sequenom, Inc. against Irell & Manella client Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. 

Ariosa, a private company in San Jose, Calif., has developed an innovative, noninvasive prenatal test—the Harmony™ Prenatal Test—that provides important information about whether a fetus is at risk of having certain chromosomal abnormalities, including Down syndrome. The test can be performed based on a simple blood draw from a pregnant woman.

In light of repeated public threats regarding enforcement of Sequenom’s patent, Irell filed suit on Ariosa’s behalf against Sequenom in the Northern District of California on Dec. 19, 2011, seeking a declaration that the Harmony™ Prenatal Test does not infringe Sequenom’s patent. Sequenom moved to transfer the case to the Southern District of California, but on Irell's opposition, the court denied the motion and allowed the case to proceed as originally filed. Sequenom counterclaimed for infringement and sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Ariosa from marketing and selling its test. 

In a 20-page opinion, Judge Illston denied Sequenom's motion for preliminary injunction, finding that Ariosa raised a “substantial question” with regard to the validity and infringement of Sequenom’s patent. Judge Illston further found that Sequenom failed to prove irreparable harm and that the balance of hardships and public interest weighed against granting a preliminary injunction. 

David Gindler, an Irell & Manella partner who argued the motion on behalf of Ariosa, described Judge Illston’s order as “a significant ruling for our client,” observing that “Judge Illston essentially rejected every argument that Sequenom made in an effort to exclude Ariosa from the market.”

Andrei Iancu, another Irell & Manella partner representing Ariosa, added that “It is critically important that Judge Illston’s order allows pregnant women to continue to benefit from Ariosa’s innovative Harmony™ Prenatal Test.”

In addition to David Gindler and Andrei Iancu, the Irell & Manella attorneys representing Ariosa include Mike Ermer and Lisa Glasser. 

The patent at issue is United States Patent No. 6,258,540.