Illustration for article titled 23AndMe Accuses Ancestry.Com of Patent Infringement and False Advertising
Screenshot: 23AndMe

DNA testing site 23andMe is suing its biggest rival, In the suit, filed earlier this month in a California federal district court, 23andme accuses of patent infringement and false advertising. Interestingly, 23andme is also pushing back against’s trademark of the word “Ancestry.” It argues the term is too generic to qualify for trademark protection.

In a statement to Gizmodo, a 23andMe spokesperson said, 23andMe is a company built on innovation, and we have brought this action to defend our intellectual property rights.”


Central to the suit is 23andMe’s claim that infringed upon its patent for analyzing customer DNA. The patent describes a specific method of identifying shared regions of DNA between a customer and potential family members. As Wired notes, however, the method, called “identical by descent,” is very common in genealogy studies.

“This is a super ubiquitous technique that’s been around for a long time,” Alicia R. Martin, a genetics researcher at the Broad Institute, told Wired.

23andMe’s lawsuit also accuses of deceptive advertising. The complaint includes a screenshot from a page advertising it provides “[five times] more regions than other DNA tests.” The lawsuit claims the headline is likely to mislead customers into believing provides five times as many regions as 23andMe. Fine print later added to the page explains that the figure compares to services like MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA.

An archived version of the page.
An archived version of the page.

23andMe is asking for unspecified damages and disgorgement, wherein a judge rules a company must pay back a portion of the profits it obtained using allegedly patented methods. In a statement, told Gizmodo, “Ancestry is aware of the suit. We take any legal proceedings seriously, and intend to vigorously defend ourselves against these claims.”



Of course I have pages. I had pages five years ago. How anyone can believe I don’t defies belief.

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