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Consumer Advocates Support Patent Office on Stem Cell Patent Rejection
Date:11/5/2007

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Amended stem cell patent claims submitted by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation don't overcome the U.S. Patent Office Examiner's rejections and the claims remain unpatentable, two consumer groups said today.

In formal comments filed Friday the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) asked that the rejections first issued on March 30 by the U.S. PTO be made final.

"Stem cell science would be best served if WARF simply withdrew their overreaching claims," said John M. Simpson, FTCR's stem cell project director.

In July 2006 the FTCR and PUBPAT challenged three patents held by WARF because they are hindering stem cell research. Stem Cell Scientist Dr. Jeanne Loring supported the challenge, which led to the rejection of all claims of all three patents in March.

In June WARF offered counter arguments and then in October filed what it described as "technical amendments" to the patent claims.

"Upon review, however, none of those amendments are sufficient to overcome the Examiner's rejections," wrote Daniel B. Ravicher, PUBPAT's executive director. "As such, the claims remain unpatentable."

Read the filing here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/913SuppComments.pdf

Four internationally known stem cell scientists, Loring of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, soon to join the Scripps Research Institute; Dr. Douglas Melton of Harvard University; Dr. Alan Trounson of Monash University in Australia, soon to take over as president of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine; and Dr. Chad Cowan of Harvard University filed declarations supporting the consumer groups and the PTO's earlier finding that the work done by Dr. James Thomson does not deserve a patent.

WARF holds three stem cell patents, numbers '780, '806 and '913, based on work done by Thomson. The rules applicable to the '913 case under a so-called "inter partes" re-examination allow the challengers to comment on WARF's responses in that proceeding.

The two earlier patents are undergoing "ex parte" re-examination and those rules do not allow formal comment from FTCR and PUBPAT. Nonetheless, the points made by FTCR and PUBPAT in the '913 case are relevant to the other two.

Since the groups filed their challenge, WARF has substantially eased licensing requirements for stem cell researchers

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 and http://www.oilwatchdog.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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