Medical diagnostics group Premaitha Health saw its shares
drop on Monday after failing in its attempts to have a patent infringement claim thrown out of court.
The claim by California-based Sequenom, which has also been made against competitors Ariosa and The Doctors Laboratory, alleges that Premaitha's IONA test infringes a 2003 patent and a 2014 pooled patents agreement between Sequenom and Illumina.
The IONA test is Premaitha's advanced non-invasive prenatal screening test for genetic disorders trisomy 21, 18 and 13.
Premaitha argued on 16 March that the claim was an abuse of the legal process due to prejudice against the defendants caused by the fact that the claim should have been brought against the defendants at an earlier stage.
Stephen Little, chief executive of Premaitha Health, said: "We are disappointed the judge did not agree with our arguments and those of the other parties as to why we feel the claim is an abuse of process, but we remain firmly of the view that the claim itself can be defended effectively. Unfortunately, the UK market remains a challenging legal environment for ourselves and other competitors."
The judge stated that Illumina and Sequenom should have made the claim at an earlier date but concluded that there was no evidence to suggest that the two companies had any knowledge that they had a claim earlier on in the process.
In a written ruling the judge awarded costs of approximately £50,000 against Premaitha and stated that the claim will proceed on a normal timetable with a projected trial date in early 2019.
"Over the last three years, and from a standing start, Premaitha has built a significant global business, yet has been hindered in its domestic market by repeated litigation from Illumina and Sequenom. As previously stated it is our intention to operate in territories with maximum opportunity and minimum legal risk and over the past eighteen months we have successfully executed against this strategy, which remains our central focus going forward," said Little.
As of 0943 GMT, Premaitha Health's shares were down 8.82% at 3.75p.