Wednesday, June 25, 2008

EPO Board concludes hearing on WARF stem cell patent application

from EarthTimes:

After hearing the arguments, the board said it would not need to continue the hearing Wednesday [June 25] as originally planned. EPO spokesman Rainer Osterwalder said he expected the board to rule before Europe's summer holidays.


One of the main reasons for the EPO refusal was that the method used a human embryo which was destroyed in the process.
Justin Turner, the lawyer for WARF, told EPO's supreme judiciary body, the seven-member Enlarged Board of Appeal, "There are no grounds whatever to deny a patent for embryonal stem cells."

He said EPO guidelines prevented patenting human embryos themselves, but not the cells derived from them.
EPO defended its refusal, saying an embryo had clearly been used and EPO rules obliged the Munich based office to protect the human dignity of the embryo.

[Certain opponents to WARF's U.S. patents have neglected to point out this underlying reason for WARF's failure to get patents in Europe, which reason had nothing to do with the reasons put forth in the ill-fated re-examination initiated by FTCR and PubPat.]

**See also


In the quirky world of California politics, a lobbying group of Robert Klein, who happens to be head of CIRM, is opposing legislation to alter CIRM (SB1565). One might have thought there was a conflict of interest somewhere here.

Californiastemcellreport writes:

The private stem cell lobbying group run by Robert Klein [Americans for Cures], who also serves as chairman of the $3 billion state stem cell agency, is formally opposing legislation aimed at ensuring that state-financed therapies are affordable and accessible to Californians.


IPKat has a post on the WARF stem cell matter: EPO hears WARF arguments, which includes the text:

The firm's [Shepherd and Weddesburn's] conclusion is that the imposition of moral criteria upon patent application decisions in the stem cells field may well drive investment from Europe to jurisdictions where patent criteria will be decided upon solely on the basis of merit [the IPKat has never understood why this should make any difference: wherever the R&D cash is spent, the results will be either patentable or non-patentable in the same markets -- and even the absence of patent protection has never stopped people commercialising their products if they see a profit ahead. Can someone assist him?].

IPBiz notes the tremendous irony in an argument that "denial of patents drives investment away" when, concurrently, in the US, one has the argument that "granting of patents drives investment away." Which is it, folks?

For example, The Business Journal of Milwaukee reported:

Three patents [of WARF] were challenged through re-examination proceedings initiated in October 2006 at the request of New York City-based Public Patent Foundation and the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights [FTCR].

The groups had argued that the work done by University of Wisconsin researcher James Thomson to isolate stem cell lines was obvious in the light of previous scientific research, making his work unpatentable. The groups claimed the three WARF patents were "impeding scientific progress and driving vital stem cell research overseas."

IPBiz notes that, shortly after the USPTO rejected the arguments made by FTCR, FTCR changed its name to ConsumerWatchdog. The net effect of the re-exam was to strengthen the WARF patents, not exactly good news for California taxpayers, who were hosed by the poorly-planned efforts of FTCR.

The declarations gathered from the likes of Loring and Trounson by FTCR for use at the USPTO were not well-received; the bizjournal noted:

The patent office rejected the arguments by the groups that Thomson's discoveries were obvious in light of previous research, finding that the expert declarations they submitted were "flawed by hindsight reasoning."

IPBiz notes that the prior art references relied upon by FTCR were found not to be enabled.


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