Biotech group settles lengthy court battle with US rival

Manchester-based biotech company Premaitha Health has secured a legal settlement and a licence and supply partnership agreement with US-based Illumina.

This resolves their non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) patent infringement legal case that has been in progress for more than three years.

The litigation was over the patent of Premaitha’s IONA prenatal test for Downs syndrome and other genetic disorders

The key terms of the agreements between the two companies involved Premaitha taking a licence under Illumina’s patent pool for NIPT and is now free to operate in countries where Illumina holds rights to relevant granted patents, including the countries of the European Patent Convention and selected other territories.

Premaitha will develop an IONA® test that runs on Illumina sequencing technology, to be launched in early 2020; and within nine months of signing the agreements has committed to submitting documentation to a notified body for obtaining certification in Europe for the Illumina-compatible IONA® test.

The company will also work with its customers in the licensed territories to migrate to the IONA® test based on Illumina sequencing technology, and will make a series of payments in full and final settlement of all ongoing UK litigation.

The directors estimate that these payments will be no more than £1m.

And, once launched, Premaitha will pay Illumina a royalty per sample tested using the IONA® test based on Illumina sequencing technology.

Premaitha chief executive, Lyn Rees, said: “These agreements mark the end of a three-and-a-half year intellectual property dispute and the beginning of a new era whereby the group, working with Illumina, has the ability to provide NIPT to meet rapidly growing global demand.

“Our partnership with Illumina will allow us to move forward and to enter new markets with significant commercial potential.

“This opens up a much larger addressable market to Premaitha and establishes a new and advanced technological partnership for the IONA® test for NIPT.”

He added: “Notwithstanding the challenges of the past several years, these agreements represent a significant milestone for the group, expanding our market potential in partnership with Illumina.

“Premaitha now has the ability to deliver high quality, customer-service-focused clinical genetic tests to a global community.”

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