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Intellectual Property

Twist Bioscience to pay $22.5 million in settlement with Agilent

Deal will resolve dispute over DNA synthesis trade secrets allegedly brought to Twist from Agilent

by Craig Bettenhausen
February 7, 2020

A photo of Emily Leproust.
Credit: Terry Way Photography
Emily Leproust

Twist Bioscience will pay Agilent Technologies $22.5 million to settle a legal dispute over trade secrets related to the synthesis of DNA on a silicon chip. The deal, which both firms announced on Feb. 6, includes a license for Twist to use certain Agilent-owned DNA synthesis technologies.

Agilent sued Twist in 2016, alleging that Twist CEO and cofounder Emily Leproust stole trade secrets when she left Agilent to launch the provider of custom DNA products and services. Agilent escalated its pursuit of the claim in 2018 when it sent a letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission protesting Twist’s initial public offering of stock, which went ahead in October of that year.

Twist made no admission of liability or wrongdoing in the settlement, which releases all claims against the company and Leproust as well as against Siyuan Chen and Solange Glaize, who also left Agilent to join Twist.

Despite its payment to Agilent, Twist is claiming victory. “Agilent launched an all-out legal assault on Twist, and in the end, we not only survived—we thrived through the attack,” Leproust says in a statement. “We are pleased with the outcome.”

Agilent also says it is happy with the settlement. “From the outset, our goal has been to protect our proprietary technology and the hard work of the many scientists and engineers who built it,” Simone Schiller, managing counsel for global litigation at Agilent, says in a statement. “This settlement accomplishes that.”

Payment aside, Twist’s business seems to be doing well. On the same day as the settlement announcement, the firm released its first-quarter 2020 financial results, in which it reported $17.2 million in revenue, a 50% increase over the same quarter in 2019. It says it expects to post up to $84 million in revenue for its full fiscal year.

Twist is not yet turning a profit. It expects a net loss for the year, excluding the payment to Agilent, of up to $110 million.

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