Roche did not disclose the terms of the settlement, but commented that existing litigation provisions in its financial statements covered the amount, ruling out any additional impact on its net income.
Roche's decision to settle this long running saga is in contrast to a similar case involving the company and MJ Research. In April 2005, the court increased damages awarded to Applera and Roche to approximately $35 million (€28 million), after a jury agreed that MJ Research had wilfully infringed patents relating to PCR owned by Applera and Roche Molecular Systems (Roche).
The settlement between the two companies stems from an original lawsuit initiated by Roche Diagnostics back in 1992. Over the past 15 years, legal challenge brought in the US by Promega, which strove to overturn patents on technology used in gene amplification using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), were unsuccessful.
Roche's foundational PCR patents have also recently expired in the US, setting up a complex situation for basic researchers in the laboratory, who have had to previously negotiate the tricky arrangement between the company and Applied Biosystems (ABI).
The expiration of Roche's patents is certain to create a wealth of opportunities for toolmakers and providers. A prime example is mass spectrometry, which is gaining in the clinical arena because of its quantitative capability.
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is a nucleic acid amplification technology that allows minute amounts of genetic material to be amplified into billions of copies in just a few hours.
The technology is most widely used to perform testing that identifies whether or not a specific gene sequence is present, such as that indicating if a patient has been infected with HIV.
It has enabled many significant advances in the Human Genome project, DNA fingerprinting and in the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis.