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Patent attorney Bertram Rowland and his former firm, Flehr Hohbach Test Albritton and Herbert of Palo Alto, Calif., have agreed to pay Mountain View, Calif.-based Caliper Technologies Corp. $12 million in cash to settle a trade secrets case. Caliper claimed that Rowland and Flehr Hohbach, along with Aclara Biosciences Corp., had misappropriated the company’s trade secrets involving microfluidic technology. The firm and Rowland were also accused of breaching their fiduciary duties. The claims against Aclara remain pending. A trial in the case began in Santa Clara, Calif. Superior Court on Thursday at which time Judge Frank Cliff agreed to the settlement. Opening arguments in the case are expected to begin next week. In its March 1999 complaint, Caliper Technologies Corp. v. Rowland, CV 780743, Caliper alleges that it hired Flehr Hohbach five years ago to advise the company on patents and that the firm shared its trade secrets with Rowland, a partner at Flehr Hohbach. A year and a half later, Rowland became vice president and general counsel at Aclara, a competitor of Caliper’s. Caliper and Aclara of Hayward, Calif. are embroiled in two patent infringement suits pending in the Northern District of California. Aclara filed suit against Caliper claiming infringement of a patent, and Caliper filed its own suit claiming infringement of the so-called “Ramsey” patents. Caliper said in a press release issued late Thursday that Rowland and the firm deny any liability and the settlement is not an admission of liability. Philip Ward, a partner at Hassard Bonnington in San Francisco, represents Rowland, and Robert Luft, a partner in the San Jose office of Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley, represents Flehr Hohbach. Neither was immediately available for comment.

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