Payment for Illumina's patent suit loss one of nation's largest

However, investors don't seem to be worried about $96 million judgment

On Thursday (March 14) a jury in Tacoma, Washington found that local biotech Illumina, maker of genetic analysis equipment, infringed the patent of Washington-based Syntrix Biosystems on synthetic matrix and array technology. The Washington company's law firm believes it could be the largest patent infringement award in state history. The Seattle Times said the $96 million award would have ranked as the ninth largest intellectual property verdict nationwide last year, according to the National Law Journal. Illumina's stock only took a wee hit from the verdict. The judge dismissed claims that the infringement was willful and that Illumina misappropriated Syntrix's trade secrets. Illumina plans to appeal.

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Where else but here could I get timely information on financial matters that matter, interpreted with clarity for us, the uninitiated?

As I know how hard you work, Don, I hesitate to bring it up here, but can you tell us (many San Diego investors) more about LPL's troubles, and in particular whether the REIT problems back east apply to California and what, if anything should or is being done here? I don't know where else LPL's clients are, but it would seem that might be the whole country.

Twister: LPL has gotten into trouble in Massachusetts, largely over its selling of non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs). I think LPL has been selling them in many markets. Non-traded REITs are illiquid, but many brokers push them because they generate huge broker commissions. FINRA has put out a warning against non-traded REITs. If you go to the Reader's search box, you can find several columns and blog items I wrote about non-traded REITs, as well as about LPL. Best, Don Bauder

If Twister lost money in non-traded REITs peddled by LPL, his only option for recovery appears to be filing an arbitration claim with FINRA. He will probably need a lawyer. Under the terms of his customer agreement he almost certainly agreed not to sue LPL. Any claims must be settled through arbitration. That's why LPL will likely never face a class action lawsuit over non-traded REITs.

Burwell: Brokerage customers sign the agreement to take everything to arbitration, and not go to court. The problem is that arbitration is generally pro-Wall Street, but not always. Some cases, however, do get to court in certain circumstances. Judges are usually not sympathetic. Unless California goes after LPL as Massachusetts has, Twister will probably wind up in arbitration. However, FINRA has already denounced non-traded REITs, so the arbitration panel might be sympathetic. Best, Don Bauder

Thank you both. Now my decision must be how to get myself out of the REITs with minimal further losses, and to find another financial manager that will be more reliable. My biggest concern is that the REIT's are going public so that we, the suckers, will have to sell the stock at a loss or run the risk of taking bigger losses. I put great trust in one of the principal people at LPL, but he retired soon after I signed up. While my losses are not insignificant, I doubt that I would have a prayer of getting enough back to pay her fees, thus increasing my losses. We are eating our retirement fund seed corn, and have been after losing six-figure amounts in the Crash of '08. Prior to that, we were fat, dumb, and happy, living off earnings and even adding to the fund balance. So, LPL ain't ALL bad, I suppose.

Twister: I assume you are getting a fat yield from the non-traded REITs. That should soothe the pain somewhat. If you are not getting that income, then you have a problem. That would suggest the REIT is not going public any time soon. Best, Don Bauder

I'm due a fat refund from the IRS, but that's due to the excessive losses.

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