Calif. Jury Clears Alere In Bio Test Cup Patent Suit
A California federal jury on Friday cleared Alere Inc. of allegations that its popular drug-screening test product, the iCup A.D., infringed Rembrandt Diagnostics LP’s patent, which describes using strips to quickly test for drugs in urine.
After about six hours of deliberating, a unanimous jury found that Alere, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, did not infringe Rembrandt’s patent. But the jury also found that Rembrandt’s patented technology is not anticipated or made obvious in light of prior art, rejecting Alere’s arguments that the patent is invalid under those theories.
The verdict is the latest development in a lawsuit Rembrandt filed against the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company in March 2016, accusing Alere of infringing multiple patents to make its popular iCup drug-testing products. The suit sought treble damages plus pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys’ fees and costs of litigation.
After multiple dispositive motions and pleading rounds, a seven-member jury was asked to decide if Alere’s products infringe Rembrandt’s U.S. Patent Number 6,548,019, “Device and Methods for Single Step Collection and Assay of Biological Fluids." The sole remaining patent claim at issue at trial was over the use of an “equivalent” “pressure” mechanism for protecting the test cup’s sensitive test strips, according to Alere's counsel.
After a five-day trial, the jury handed Alere a win, finding its iCup products do not infringe the ’019 patent, but declining to invalidate the patent outright.
The process outlined in the '019 patent was invented by Jin Po Lee and Poyi Tseng and it describes test cups that includes one or more test strips and can be used to collect and quickly screen a urine sample for the presence of illicit drugs or other substances, according to the complaint. The Wilmington, Massachusetts-based Assurance Biotech LLC owns the patent and assigned its rights to Rembrandt, according to the suit. But the suit says that Lee's company, Syntron Bioresearch Inc., had sold similar test cups under the trade-name QuikScreen as a patent licensee for years.
Representatives and counsel for Rembrandt did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment. A representative for Kirkland & Ellis declined to comment on Tuesday.
Rembrandt is represented by Joseph F. Jennings, Douglas G. Muehlhauser, Jared C. Bunker, Kendall M. Loebbaka and Ashley C. Morales of Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear LLP
Alere is represented by Jim Hurst, Amanda Hollis and Sarah Tsou of Kirkland & Ellis LP and by David J. Noonan of Noonan Lance Boyer & Banach LLP.
The case is Rembrandt Diagnostics LP v. Alere Inc. et al., case number 3:16-cv-00698, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.