The Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights ("FTCR") along with the Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") are reporting that the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted its request that the agency re-examine three key human embryonic stem cell patents held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).
The patents under reexamination are US Patents 5,843,780, 6,200,806, and 7,029,913, which have been described as "overreaching patents" that cover human embryonic stem cells. According to PUBPAT:
“WARF has been allowed to profit at the expense of public health while many American scientists have been barred from conducting life-saving medical research. These over-reaching patents threaten our health, waste taxpayer money, and send valuable research overseas,” said Dan Ravicher, Executive Director of PUBPAT. FTCR and PUBPAT 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 the work unpatentable.
Dr. Jeanne Loring, a stem cell scientist at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, had filed a statement supporting the groups' challenges. "The real discovery of embryonic stem cells was by Martin Evans, Matt Kaufman, and Gail Martin in 1981, and none of these scientists considered patenting them," said Loring. "It is outrageous that WARF claimed credit for this landmark discovery nearly 15 years after it was made. "The groups said the patents' dubious validity is underscored by the fact that no other country in the world honors them.
The patents are being cited as a primary reason why U.S. researchers have sent research monies abroad where they can avoid paying royalties to WARF.
See PUBPAT Reexamination documents and news updates here.
You can also follow the Reexamination proceedings on the USPTO's PAIR system:
US Patent 5,843,780 ex-parte reexamination proceeding (90/008,102)
US Patent 6,200,806 ex-parte reexamination proceeding (90/008,139)
US Patent 7,029,913 inter-partes reexamination proceeding (95/000,154 )