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Consumer Groups Will Continue to Press Stem Cell Patent Challenge
Date:2/28/2008

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two consumer groups said today that they will continue their challenge of three overreaching patents on human stem cells held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) despite a non-final decision by Patent Office allowing three amended claims in one of the disputed patents.

The Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) said they would appeal any later final decision by the examiner supporting the claims to the Patent and Trademark Office's Board of Appeals, which frequently overturns the decision made by examiners. The groups also have the right to appeal any decision of that board to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Federal Circuit, if necessary.

The "non-final office decision" in the inter partes re-examination of the '913 patent was posted late Wednesday on the PTO's website.

"We won the first round when the PTO rejected all claims of the '780, '806 and '913 patents," said John M. Simpson, FTCR Stem Cell Project Director. "Now WARF has won the second round with respect to just one of the patents, but the battle is hardly over. We're in this for the long haul."

"The examiner based his decision on his own belief that it would not have been obvious to isolate human stem cells using widely known methods to isolate mouse stem cells, which contradicts the sworn testimony that we provided of four renowned stem cell embryologists who were doing such work", said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT Executive Director. "Thus, the examiner took his own opinion over the opinions of our four leading stem cell scientist witnesses."

Joining the two consumer groups in the challenge from the beginning was Dr. Jeanne Loring, now of the Scripps Institute. After the initial rejection, Dr. Alan Trounson, then of Australia's Monash University and now president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Douglas Melton of Harvard and Dr. Chad Cowan of Harvard filed affidavits supporting the challenge.

The two groups noted that the patent challenge has already improved the situation for stem cell researchers; shortly after the PTO announced it would re-examine the three patents, WARF announced a substantial easing of its licensing requirements.

"WARF executives were acting like arrogant bullies blinded by dollar signs," said Simpson. "Our challenge has engendered a more co-operative stance on their part."

Decisions are pending on the other two patents. No other country recognizes the three WARF patents.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California's leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more information visit us on the web at: http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.

The Public Patent Foundation is a not-for-profit legal services organization that represents the public's interests against the harms caused by the patent system, particularly the harms caused by wrongly issued patents and unsound patent policy. For more information, visit us on the web at http://www.pubpat.org.


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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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