BOTHELL – Blue Heron Biotechnology, which synthesizes genes for life science researchers, is accused of infringing on a Massachusetts-based firm’s patents in a new federal lawsuit.
Codon Devices Inc. near Boston claims in its U.S. District Court case that Blue Heron’s gene synthesis technology infringes on five patents held exclusively by Codon. It seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction against the Bothell-based firm.
Jennifer Camacho, chief patent counsel for Codon, declined to add detail, saying the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Blue Heron’s chief executive, John Fess, said he didn’t have a response to the lawsuit as of Thursday afternoon.
Noteworthy is that Codon was founded by a venture capital firm in 2004 and began operations in 2005. Privately held Blue Heron was founded in 1999 by John Mulligan, who’s now chairman and chief scientific officer.
“It’s unusual to, eight years in, be sued on something you presumably patented years ago,” said Karel Lambert, a Seattle patent agent who once worked for Bothell’s Sonus Pharmaceuticals.
But, he said, it’s possible that Codon or its predecessors held the patent rights years before getting the company started.
That indeed may be the case. The Boston Globe reported the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University gained the five patents in question between 1995 and 1998. They were then licensed exclusively to Codon.
Blue Heron’s gene-copying technology, called GeneMaker, can create sequences larger than 40,000 base pairs, which form DNA’s double-helix structure. For comparison, genes in mammals can consist of several hundred thousand base pairs.
Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or email@example.com.