California Group’s Challenges to Stem Cell Patents Overturned
On Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected challenges by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica and other to two embryonic stem cell patents held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The patent office in February rejected a challenge to a third embryonic stem cell patent held by WARF.
Alan Trounson, head of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Jeanne Loring of the Scripps Research Institute were two of the four stem cell scientists who filed declarations urging the patents to be overturned (Gallagher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/11).
WARF holds patents on both the method used to isolate embryonic stem cell lines and the cells themselves after a 1998 discovery by a University of Wisconsin researcher.
In July 2006, FTCR and New York-based Public Patent Foundation petitioned the federal government to revoke WARF's patents, saying that the patents could hinder research funded by California's stem cell agency.
The patent agency in its preliminary ruling rejected the patents because the cells appeared to be the same as, or variations of, cells described in earlier scientific papers or in patents issued to others (California Healthline, 6/1/07).
The three stem cell patents expire in 2015, but WARF has made subsequent patent filings that will allow the foundation to generate royalties after they expire (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/11).
The ruling also will benefit Menlo Park-based Geron, which helped fund the Wisconsin scientist's research and holds exclusive license from WARF for using embryonic cells to create neural, heart muscle and pancreatic cells (Waters, Bloomberg News/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 3/11).