Technology has ushered in advancements in many industries, and one of the most important is biology. That is because breakthroughs in biology are directly related to human health and have the potential to transform healthcare and perhaps even the world. And among those pioneering the way is 10x Genomics.
As a multi-time winner of The Scientist’s Top 10 Innovations award, 10x Genomics is considered an innovator. That is further demonstrated by the more than 1,300 patents issued or filed and over 3,500 publications under its belt. But its success has also brought trouble, including multiple lawsuits.
Just last week in Delaware federal court, 10x Genomics filed a lawsuit against the startup Parse Biosciences. The lawsuit alleges that Parse’s gene-analysis kits infringe upon patents related to one of its key products, the Chromium platform.
The Chromium series of products focus on single-cell solutions and is capable of analyzing hundreds to tens of thousands of cells per run. It is not only used in top institutions around the world, but Chromium X is behind 10x Genomics’s latest The Scientist’s Top 10 Innovations award, which it received in 2021.
It is one of the most important tools in the company’s arsenal, which is why 10x Genomics reacted so strongly to the alleged infringement. According to the lawsuit, Parse has made it clear that it is looking to copy its lineup of single-cell products wholesale.
But Parse is not backing down. Perhaps fueled by $41.5 million in startup funding received in February, the company plans to fight the lawsuit. A spokesperson from the company went as far as to say it would not let its competition stop it from making single-cell genomics more accessible.
While Parse puts up a noble front about bringing the cutting-edge technology to the “broader community,” 10x Genomics has spent considerable funding and effort developing its technologies. In fact, it has spent over $1 billion to get where it is now, and as its spokesperson said, they plan to “vigorously defend” its products and intellectual property.
Moreover, 10x Genomics technology is already being used to make breakthrough discoveries. That includes breakthroughs related to diseases like covid and cancer, for which single-cell genomics is particularly useful for studying.
As for the specifics of the infringement lawsuit, 10x Genomics pointed to its technology for tagging molecules with barcodes for tracking. The company also licenses patents from Stanford University, another party involved in the legal battle.
But none of this is new for 10x Genomics. The competitive field and the company’s vast number of patents have led to multiple lawsuits over the years.
A lawsuit in 2020 ended with 10x Genomics being awarded the exclusive license for a patent also licensed to another company, 1Cellbio. Additionally, a multi-front legal battle against Bio-Rad Laboratories was resolved last year. 10x Genomics also recently sued NanoString Technologies and Vizgen for patent infringement related to spatial gene expression analysis technologies.
Competition is intense as genomics companies rush toward the next big breakthrough, and only time will tell who comes out on top and is remembered as the winner.