Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 21 issue of Science discusses re-exam of WARF stem cell patents

Further to the PubPat re-exam request of the Thomson / WARF patents, the July 21 issue of Science has some discussion of the matter.

Eli Kintisch, "Groups Challenge Key Stem Cell Patents," 313 Science 281 (21 Jul 06)

The WARF patents should not have been granted because the work was obvious and not new.

WARF's patents cover the use, sales, or research on stem cells obtained from primates--regradles of who makes them or how. Experts say the patents are broad because they cover both actual cell lines and general descriptions of making them.
[As noted in IPBiz, there is a research exemption at 35 USC 271(e)(1) which was broadly construed by the US Supreme Court in Merck v. Integra. Science saying that WARF's patents cover "research on stem cells" can be strongly questioned. The failure of Science to mention the research exemption can also be strongly questioned.]

Harvard's Melton calls Warf's licencing terms "onerous, restrictive, and uncooperative" barriers to cures.

FTCR says first two patents are invalid because they cover a technique that was published before 1995. They cite a patent granted in 1992 to Australian Robert Williams. [IPBiz has noted that the Williams' patent comprises data only on mice, unlike the patents of Thomson which comprise data on primates and on humans. Williams never successfully used a technique on primates or humans prior to Thomson's disclosure, a fact that neither FTCR nor Science tell you.]

techniques mentioned in a 1990 paper and scientific books render Thomson's work "obvious to someone skilled in the art"

Experts say the challenges touch on fundamental difficulties about obviousness and novelty claims. [IPBiz suggests that the anticipation/novelty argument of FTCR is not strong and does not present a fundamental difficulty.]

quote Allan Robins.

Bill Warren says the PTO could decide not to review the patents because two of four key references FTCR cites were previously reviewed by the PTO.


In an article by Eugenie Samuel Reich in the December 24, 2005 issue of New Scientist
concerning the unfolding scandal of the work of Hwang Woo-Suk, one has a quote from Harvard's Melton:

Observers are now unsure what to believe. "There are so many conflicting
," says Doug Melton, a stem-cell biologist at Harvard University.


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