Foundation Medicine, a company that got its start with backing from Google Ventures, Bill Gates, and other major tech investors, received a patent this morning that protects its cancer genomic sequencing process.Now, it's using that patent to sue a competitor, Guardant Health.

"We certainly intend to pursue the value of this patent, we also have always been focused on and remain focused on a very patient-centric mission," Foundation President Steve Kafka told Business Insider on Tuesday.

"So our intent here is not to block other laboratories from their testing ... but really to develop strategies to recognize the value that we've captured or we've created, rather.

Guardant declined to comment on the patent.Cancer genome sequencingWhen people are diagnosed with cancer, there's a pretty standard course of treatment to fight off the disease: the doctor may start with surgery or a regimen of drugs that are known to work on a particular type of cancer.

But after a while, if that first round doesn't knock out all the cancer cells, the cancer can come back and be even trickier to treat.Those harder to treat and rare cancers is where cancer genomics companies, including Foundation Medicine, are trying to help.

And earlier this month, the company launched its liquid biopsy test, which looks for circulating tumor DNA in the blood.That data also goes into a Foundation Medicine database, where people ranging from doctors looking for methods to treat a certain rare cancer to pharmaceutical companies interested in finding the patients who will respond the best to a drug that's in development could look at it.NOW WATCH: Only in San Francisco — inside the 232-square-foot micro apartment that sold for nearly $425,000Loading video...

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