LabCorp Owes Ravgen $273 Million Over Prenatal Test Patents (1)

Diagnostic giant Holdings of Laboratory Corporation of America has to pay a fetal DNA tester $272.5 million for copying a method used to screen for Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities, according to a Texas jury ruling opposite Ravgen Inc. attorney John M. Desmarais Bloomberg Law confirmed.

The jury, after about four hours of deliberation, decided 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 that Ravgen’s allegations are completely unfounded, and as such we are disappointed with the jury’s verdict and are evaluating our appeal options,” a LabCorp representative said in a statement to Bloomberg Law.

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Ravgen sued LabCorp in October 2020, alleging that its MaterniT and informaSeq tests violated Ravgen founder Dr. Ravinder S. Dhallan concerning methods for detecting cell-free fetal DNA from maternal blood. The jury trial began September 19 and focused on allegations that LabCorp infringed the ‘277 patent. Ravgen requested payments of $100 per LabCorp test performed using the infringing technology, which amounts to a $272.5 million claim in damages, which the jury agreed to.

During the opening statement, LabCorp attorney Edward G. Poplawski of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC said the company uses glycine and another chemical to stabilize DNA in blood samples to improve the accuracy of the test. According to Poplawski, his trading partner Streck developed the test procedure and received a patent for it in 1998.

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“Because our approach is different, LabCorp does not infringe Ravgen’s patent,” he said.

However, Ravgen’s attorney, Deron Dacus, argued that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s affidavit documents prove LabCorp’s test tubes “work exactly like the patent,” meaning Ravgen “earned a reasonable royalty for the unauthorized and extensive use” of the technology should be paid.

Mid-trial, LabCorp decided to drop its defense that the ‘277 patent was invalid after cross-examination of Streck’s CEO found that the alleged prior art did not actually predate the patent.

A LabCorp spokesman said two challenges to the validity of Ravgen’s test patents are pending with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, where decisions are due in November and December.

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“Ravgen and Dr. Dhallan have been kind of mistreated by these big diagnostics companies for a decade,” Desmarais said. “We are very pleased to be able to champion his cause because patent rights are important in this country. Big companies need to stop intentionally hurting.”

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.

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