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Robert F. Kelly: Construing the Claims of DNA-Sequencing Patents


Senior Judge Robert F. Kelly recently issued a claim-construction decision that addressed several patents in the DNA-sequencing field. In particular, the Court construed the following terms and phrases:

“Amplification system”
“Polymerase enzyme system”
“Aqueous liquid phase that includes a cell-free, enzymatic, exponential nucleic acid amplification system”
“Aqueous liquid phase that includes a cell-free nucleic acid polymerase enzyme system”
“Forming a liquid mixture of the sample and said amplification system”
“Completely entrapping”
“Distributing in said aqueous liquid phase”
“Distributing in said amplification system”
“A preformed immobilized medium”
“Nucleotide substrate”
“Optical characteristic of each microparticle”
“Optical characteristic of said microparticle”
“With sufficient resolution for individual microparticles to be distinguished”
“Signal tracking means effective to correlate the optical signals from each of the microparticles in each of the sequence of digital images with said center of said microparticle”
“Tracking position of the microparticles”
“Processing the plurality of digital images, wherein said processing includes correlating the optical signals generated at each microparticle with its corresponding image in each of the plurality of digital images”
“Generating sequence reads”
“An array of polynucleotide molecules”
“Which molecules can be individually resolved by optical microscopy”
“Arraying the fragments such that different fragments can be individually resolved by optical microscopy”
“Population of polynucleotide fragments”
“Ligating together the cleaved ends produced by said removing”
“Ligating the pair of segments together”
The Court also declined to construe the following:

“Thin layer”
“Incubating said immobilized medium”
“Incubating said trapped mixture”
“Wherein the average distance between the nearest solid surfaces is smaller than the distance which the synthesized nucleic acid product can migrate by diffusion during the reaction”
Life Techs. Corp. v. Illumina Inc., C.A. No. 09-706-RK (D. Del. Dec 15, 2010) (Kelly, S.J.).

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