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Weil's 2018 Verinata Trial Victory Recognized as a Top Verdict by Daily Journal

Weil was recognized in the Daily Journal’s 2018 “Top Verdicts” series for securing a January 2018 trial victory for Verinata Health Inc. when a California federal jury awarded more than $26 million in lost profits to the maternal health firm. The jury found that Ariosa Diagnostics’ Harmony prenatal test had infringed two Verinata patents that were licensed from Stanford University.

Verinata’s suit was consolidated with a separate suit brought by Illumina Inc. against Ariosa when Illumina acquired Verinata in 2013. The plaintiffs argued that before the introduction of Verinata’s blood test, called Verifi, doctors had to conduct a prenatal test that involved the risky procedure of drawing amniotic fluid from the womb with a needle. Verinata argued that Ariosa had infringed its ‘430 patent, on methods to detect fetal abnormality, and its ‘794 patent, on multiplex nucleic acid reactions.

Edward Reines, Co-Head of Weil’s Patent Litigation and Life Sciences practices, said of the victory to the Daily Journal: "Within the technical complexities, the story was compelling and human. Illumina's technology is so vital for mothers' health. It replaces an invasive test with a scary needle which in 5% of cases led to fetal termination. Our test is noninvasive, it's respectful of the mother's health and it's cheaper, faster, better, safer. When you explain that to a jury, they get it.”

Mr. Reines presented a number of biotech leaders — including Illumina executive chairman Jay T. Flatley and former Verinata CEO Jeff Bird — to bolster the plaintiffs’ claims. “There was a bit of star power on our side,” he said of the experts presented to the jury.

Speaking on the jury’s verdict for Verinata and Illumina, Mr. Reines noted: “It is now clear that our massive investment will be free from copyists and free riders. It's very important to promote investments like this, because they aren't easy.”

He added, “Without fair patent protection for diagnostics, an opposite result wouldn't bode well for the industry.”

The Weil team was led by Edward Reines, Co-Head of Weil’s Patent Litigation and Life Sciences practices, and included partner Derek Walter and counsel Robert Vlasis.