The Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated a RainDance Technologies patent earlier this week for obviousness. The patent, which covers a method for manipulating the size of liquid droplets used in microfluidic diagnostic tests, was challenged by manufacturer 10X Genomics Inc.
The panel, after conducting an inter partes review, found that the technique’s characteristics, which RainDance argued distinguish its technology from similar inventions, are obvious and that a reasonably trained scientist could infer and apply them on their own.
“The record establishes that there were a finite number of identified, predictable ways of controlling the pressures applied to the carrier fluid and aqueous fluid in order to regulate the size and periodicity of the droplets at the inlet module,” the board wrote in its decision.
The board’s decision comes just days after Bio-Rad Laboratories (NYSE:BIO) said that it inked a definitive agreement to acquire RainDance for an undisclosed amount. The Hercules, Calif.-based company said it expects the transaction to close in the 1st quarter of 2017 and that it will reveal the terms of the acquisition when it discusses its 4th quarter and full-year financial results for 2016.
Billerica, Mass.-based RainDance Technologies’ intellectual property and product portfolio include technologies to simplify genetic analysis of biological reactions in droplets.
The company’s tools aim to enhance the way researchers study cell-based and cell-free biomarkers in cancer and infectious disease, according to RainDance’s website.
The RainDrop Plus Digital PCR system generates millions of droplets of a sample for digital PCR, which is used in applications such as copy number variation, expression analysis and the detection of rare mutants that necessitate high sensitivity. To achieve high sensitivity, the system produces millions of droplets, increasing the probability that the system will detect an analyte.