Santa Monica, CA — Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle’s announcement today that stem cell researchers working in Wisconsin will not have to pay royalties to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) amounts to an acknowledgment that WARF stem cell patents are a roadblock to cures for patients everywhere, said the non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).Â Â
The agreement will not help to get cures to patients because scientists must still seek approval from WARF and pay royalties before selling the cures or otherwise making them available toÂ the public. In July, FTCR filed challenges to three overreaching stem cell patents held by WARF that significantly undermine research and waste taxpayer money.Â Â
“The agreement between Gov. Doyle and WARF is an acknowledgment that the overly broad WARF patents stymie research and delay cures.Â It is absurd that WARF, or any organization, could own the rights to life itself.Â For the good of patients, these patents must be dissolved,” said Jerry Flanagan of FTCR.Â
FTCRÂ said the patents’ dubious validity is underscored by the fact that no other country in the world honors them. As a result, U.S. researchers have sent research monies abroad where they can avoid paying royalties to WARF.Â Already, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has funded scientists in other countries and calls the WARF patents a “major inhibition to productive scientific research.”
“Scientists will still be deterred from conducting research in the U.S. because they must still seek approval from WARF and pay royalties before making cures available to the public.Â Â Research will continue to be shifted oversees to countries that refuse to acknowledge the overly broad WARF patents,” said Flanagan.
The patent challenges filed by FTCRÂ and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) call on the United States Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine and revoke three patents that give the rights to all human embryonic stem cells used for research to WARF.Â
The patents resulted from University of Wisconsin researcher James Thomson’s work to isolate stem cells. The basis of the challenges is that the patents on human embryonic stem cells should not have been granted in the first place, because the previous work of other scientists made the derivation of human embryonic stem cells obvious and therefore unpatentable. Dr. Jeanne Loring, a stem cell scientist and renowned authority on stem cell research, submitted a declaration in the support of the patent challenges.
“These patents should have never been issued in the first place,” said Dr. Loring of the Burnham Institute for Medical Research. “The real invention was made 25 years ago, when embryonic stem cells were first discovered – and the scientists who discovered them didn’t expect a payoff. James Thomson just followed a recipe written by other scientists, and there’s nothing patentable about that.”
Read Loring’s three declarations supporting the challenges at:Â http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/LoringDeclarations.pdf.
FTCR and PUBPAT filed challenges against three patents previously granted to WARF:
* One patent on all primate embryonic stem cells, including humans, issued in 1998 (Patent # 5,843,780). Read the FTCR & PUBPAT challenge at:Â http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/780Request.pdf.
* A second, specifically on human cells, granted in 2001 (Patent # 6,200,806). Read the FTCR & PUBPAT challenge at:Â http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/806Request.pdf.
* And a third on human cells issued in April of 2006 (Patent # 7,029,913). Read the FTCR & PUBPAT challenge at:Â http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org/resources/913Request.pdf.
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FTCR is a leading non-partisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information, visit us on the web atÂ http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.