EMAILED ON May 31, 2018 BY Conor Grant

23andMe files a patent infringement lawsuit to chop down Ancestry’s family tree

DNA-testing startup 23andMe filed a lawsuit against its biggest competitor in the genome-at-home genealogy market, Ancestry, in an effort to establish a lead in the race for DNA dominance.

The startup claims that old-timer Ancestry copied its patented saliva-based relative discovery method — and also asked the court to remove the company’s trademark on “Ancestry” because it’s too “generic.”

Genes are super trendy this season

The DNA kit market is expected to reach $7.7B by 2020 — last year, 15m people had their DNA analyzed in order to determine their geneology.

23andMe was the first company to offer direct-to-consumer DNA testing when it rolled out its saliva-based kits — but since then a number of competitors have followed them into the fray.

23andMe’s beef with Ancestry goes waaaaay back

Ancestry was founded back in 1983, as a database for historical genealogy information gathered from public records. But, after 23andMe rolled out testing kits in 2007, Ancestry developed its own test. By 2017, Ancestry’s program (7m tested) had dwarfed 23andMe’s (3m tested).

Now 23andMe, which still has the most cutting edge testing technology (and the only FDA cancer-screening approval in the industry), hopes that its lawsuit (which will likely provoke a countersuit) can knock Ancestry off its pedestal long enough to scale its business operations to compete.

But keep your genes on — as these two double-helix dynamos duke it out, as many as 10 new (and questionable) DNA kit options will hit the market every day.