The jury decided after about four hours of deliberation that LabCorp’s method of combining chemicals to stabilize blood samples was too similar to Ravgen’s method of adding formaldehyde to preserve DNA for testing.
“We believe Ravgen’s allegations are completely unfounded and therefore we are disappointed with the jury’s verdict and are reviewing our options for appeal,” a LabCorp representative said in a statement to Bloomberg Law.
Ravgen sued LabCorp in October 2020, claiming that its MaterniT and informaSeq tests matched the U.S. patent numbers of Ravgen, Dr. Ravinder S. Dhallan, violating. 7,727,720 and 7,332,277, with methods to detect cell-free fetal DNA from the mother’s blood. The jury trial began Sept. 19 and focused on allegations that LabCorp infringed the ‘277 patent. Ravgen asked for payments of $100 per LabCorp test conducted with the infringing technology, representing a requested $272.5 million in damages, which the jury awarded.
In opening statements, LabCorp counsel Edward G. Poplawski, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC, said the company uses glycine and another chemical to stabilize DNA in blood samples and improve the accuracy of the test. According to Poplawski, his commercial partner Streck developed the test method and patented it in 1998.
“Because our approach is different, LabCorp does not infringe on Ravgen’s patent,” he said.
However, Ravgen attorney Deron Dacus argued that U.S. Food and Drug Administration documents filed under oath prove LabCorp’s test tubes “work just like the patent,” meaning Ravgen “should receive a reasonable royalty for unauthorized and extended use” of the technology.
LabCorp decided halfway through the trial to drop its defense that the ‘277 patent is invalid after a cross-examination of Streck’s CEO found that alleged state of the art did not actually predate the patent.
A LabCorp spokesperson said a few validity challenges for Ravgen’s test patents are pending with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, where decisions are due in November and December.
“Ravgen and Dr. Dhallan have been treated badly by these major diagnostic companies for a decade now,” Desmarais said. “We are very excited to be able to defend his case, because patent rights are important in this country. Big companies need to stop willfully infringing.”
Desmarais LLP and The Dacus Firm PC represent Ravgen. Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Reed Smith LLP and Wilson Sonsini represent LabCorp.
The case is Ravgen, Inc. v. Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings, WD Tex., No. 20-cv-00969.