Scientists join patent protest;

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Wisconsin foundation backs its stem cell research

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Wisconsin)

The two foundations questioning the validity of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation‘s key embryonic stem cell patents have bolstered their protest with comments from three more scientists.

The comments were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the groups said Monday. Douglas Melton and Chad Cowan of Harvard University and Alan Trounson of Monash University in Australia joined Jeanne Loring of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research in filing declarations supporting the foundations’ efforts to get the patents overturned.

The groups — the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, Calif., and the Public Patent Foundation in New York — have argued that three fundamental patents the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation holds are based on research that would have been obvious to anyone familiar with literature in the field.

The research is attributed to University of Wisconsin-Madison scientist James Thomson, who in 1998 was the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells.

The Patent Office in April issued a preliminary rejection of the three WARF patents. Only about 12% of all patents are canceled, the office has said.

In response to the preliminary rejection, WARF sent the patent office a more than 1,000-page filing asking why someone else didn’t do what Thomson did if it was so obvious, and highlighting the acclaim it has received from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biotechnology Hall of Fame and others.
Contact the author KATHLEEN GALLAGHER at: [email protected]

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