Hwang, fired from SNU and now having his own lab in Gyeonggi Province, works for California-based BioArts International, which made headlines for its planned July 5-9 auction rewarding five winners a chance to clone their favorite pets.
BioArts claims RNL Bio has no legal rights to clone dogs as it has an exclusive license for the cloning of animals using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology. The license was granted to Start Licensing and applies to cloning patents developed at the Roslin Institute for the cloning of ``Dolly'' the sheep.
RNL Bio responds that it owns the worldwide license for dog cloning, granted to SNU which held the patents for the cloning of ``Snuppy'' the dog ― a verified Hwang achievement. The Korean company stresses that the technology associated with sheep cloning has never been successful in producing a genetic copy of a dog.
There is the possibility of a legal battle brewing between the world's only two companies involved in commercial dog cloning, which may eventually come down to an ultimate showdown between SNU and Start Licensing.
The situation is ironic. BioArts/Hwang is invoking patent rights from Roslin, while RNL Bio is invoking patent rights obtained from Hwang. The post notes:
Kim Sun-woong, a patent lawyer representing Sooam Biotech Research Center, Hwang's current lab, has a different take. He claims that BioArts' exclusive rights covers all cloning of animals using somatic-cell derived methods, which he calls ``core technology,'' and the SNU patents are just about ``methodology.''
Yes, Hwang's entity is "putting down" the scope and significance of the Hwang patents.
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***If you think this is trivial, note the following report from Reuters -->
Customers such as South Korea's customs service have cloned a champion sniffer dog, seeing the option as a cost-effective way to produce candidates for expensive training programs.
The customs service estimates the cost at 60 million won (30,128 pounds) per clone. It costs about twice that to breed and train a normal sniffer dog, but only about 30 percent are good enough to make the grade, it said.
"This all came about from the question of how we could secure dogs with superior qualities at a low price," commissioner of the Korea Customs Service Hur Yong-suk said. Seven clones, all named Toppy for "tomorrow's puppy," were derived from a top drug sniffing dog named Chase.