Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ad campaign for California's Proposition 71 as a bait and switch?

In October 2006, IPBiz had a post which included the text:

Of "bait and switch advertising," the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] says: It's illegal to advertise a product when the company has no intention of selling that item, but instead plans to sell a consumer something else, usually at a higher price. For more information, ask the FTC for its Guides Against Bait Advertising.

Thus, it's a bit troubling to note text in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Now, leaders of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine [CIRM],
created to implement the initiative, are warning voters not to expect that any
new treatment will be finished with clinical trials with the $350
million-a-year, roughly decade-long effort envisioned by Prop. 71.

In February 2007, californiastemcellreport has a post which includes the words:

Jesse Reynolds, project director on biotechnology accountability for the Oakland-based Center for Genetics and Society, welcomed the measure, declaring,

"If a biotech company is making billions of dollars of profit from state-financed research, the people should receive a fair return on their investment, as well as access to any therapies."

Reynolds said the leadership of the stem cell agency has tried to "back out" of Prop. 71 campaign promises of huge economic returns to the state. He said,

"This would have been a billion-dollar bait and switch. The bill will make significant steps toward fulfilling these promises."

On Feb. 23, Terri Somers wrote in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

During the campaign for the $3 billion taxpayer-funded stem cell research initiative Proposition 71, the public was told California could realize as much as $500 million to $1 billion in revenue from the patenting and licensing of discoveries that contribute to new therapies. [Somers did not mention the Baker-Deal report by name.]

However, a report issued in 2005 by a group of academics and biotechnology industry executives said the most likely return to the state will come from jobs that are fueled by stem cell research and savings that therapies contribute to the health care system. [Thus, the patent royalty angle becomes inoperative.]


The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, which is implementing the stem cell initiative, has been working on two policies that would govern ownership and financial return on scientific discoveries made from its grants.

One policy deals with discoveries, called intellectual property, coming out of nonprofit research institutions. After a year, the administrative process for that policy still is not complete. [Somers did not get into the issue that if the state demands royalties from the grantees (and/or their partners), then funding by tax-exempt bonds cannot be used. The use of taxable bonds would be expected to double the interest paid by California taxpayers. The real hosing of the taxpayers comes if royalties are demanded, but no actual product is forthcoming. Paying more and getting less?]

The second policy, which the institute started working on later, would govern how companies give a cut of their profits back to the state if they take institute grants.

Kuehl pointed out that both policies have softened after being criticized by executives from biotechnology companies, which hope to use the state-funded science to make therapies. [No surprise here.]


californiastemcellreport writes: Sen. George Runner, R-Antelope Valley, co-author of the measure, said it ensures that the campaign was not a "bait-and-switch" effort.

IPBiz further notes that Terri Somers in a later article in the San Diego Union Tribune

1. failed to mention that Thomson did cite (and distinguish) the work of Bongso in his '780 patent,

2. failed to mention that Loring submitted to the USPTO a patent application in 1998 with a broad claim covering human stem cells, and

3. failed to mention that Loring did NOT cite the work of Bongso in her 1998 patent application.

IPBiz notes, once again, that what one does NOT say is sometimes most telling.


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