Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stem Cell Patent Fight Enters Another Round

Players in the ongoing saga of stem cells, WARF, California and patents rolled out another chapter today with folks on both sides finding something to make them happy.

WARF apparently fired out the first news release, declaring it was "pleased by the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to uphold the claims of a key stem cell patent."

The opposing side, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights of Santa Monica, Ca., and the Public Patent Foundation, said the decision showed the following gains for researchers.
"The original broad patent was abandoned showing it was underserved and new amended claims have been narrowed.

"The original patent covered all embryonic stem cells no matter how they are derived, but the amended 'non-final' ruling, while permitting the patent, narrowed the claim only to stems cells derived from pre-implantation embryos.

"The newest stem cell research technology — Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPS cells) — would clearly not be covered by the narrowed patent.

" Stem cells derived from fetal tissue could have been claimed under the old patent, but now cannot be."
FTCR and the patent group have been personally supported by CIRM President Alan Trounson in their challenge to the WARF patents.

The Wall Street Journal picked up on the story in its health blog, quoting Ken Taymor(see photo), a longtime follower of California stem cell affairs and executive director of the Center for Law, Business at UC Berkeley.
"It’ll be several years before the patent fight shakes out, according to Taymor, who co-authored a recent article on the subject in the journal Cell Stem Cell. 'In the mean time, there is all this other patenting activity that’s going on — patenting activity that’s not being challenged,' he said.

'Those are essential steps for commercialization.'

"What’s more, Geron and WARF hold a lot of the newer stem cell patents. 'So the more interesting question,' Taymor said, 'is what patents do they hold and what’s the scope of the claims that they have downstream in commercialization?' Taymor and his colleagues are looking into that now, and plan to publish their findings."
The story received a fair amount of attention in Wisconsin. At the time of this writing, only one newspaper in California, which is the leading biotech state in the nation, had carried a story. That publication is the San Jose Business Journal, and it wrote based on a Geron press release.

Here is a link to the story in The Scientist.

1 comment:

  1. IPBiz gives some further detail on the 85 page "action closing prosecution." As predicted earlier on IPBiz, the fundamental references cited in the re-exam were found not be be enabling.


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