Stem Cell Patent Ruling Contested

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Two consumer groups yesterday filed an appeal of a U.S. Patent and Trade Office ruling that said the University of Wisconsin’s Alumni Research Foundation could maintain its patents on all embryonic stem cells used in the United States.

The appeal will show that the creation of human embryonic stem cell lines was obvious in the light of work that had been done in other species, meaning the patent should not have been granted to WARF, said the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog Foundation, formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

No other country in the world recognizes the WARF stem cell patent, the groups said. As a result, the patents are stifling research in the United States and giving other countries a competitive edge, the groups said.

After the groups originally challenged WARF’s three stem cell patents in July 2006, a patent office examiner narrowed the scope of some of the patents. WARF then eased its requirements for people who want to use the cells.

“Although we won a substantial victory at the examiner level when WARF was forced to narrow their patent claims, we still believe that even the narrower patent is invalid, and that’s the issue we plan to contest with the PTO’s Board of Appeals,” said Dan Ravicher, the Public Patent Foundation’s executive director.

Contact the author Terri Somers: (619) 293-2028; [email protected]

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
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