Op-Ed

The Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences at the Patent and Trademark Office found April 28 that a patent on human embryonic stem cells was invalid as anticipated by an earlier patent and obvious in light of the "significant guideposts" in the literature for deriving the cells at the time of invention (Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights v. Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, B.P.A.I., No. 2010-001854, 4/28/10).

The patent is one of three on stem cell derivation assigned to Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and licensed to Geron Corp. It was challenged by consumer advocacy groups in a PTO inter partes reexamination proceeding.

One of the challengers was also successful recently in the Myriad case challenging gene patenting on Section 101 grounds. A stakeholder in the biotechnology industry suggested that both cases represent a "pushback" against the "land rush" for intellectual property in the field.

Challenge by PUBPAT and Consumer Watchdog.

A patent (7,029,913) was issued April 18, 2006, to James A. Thomson titled "Primate embyronic stem cells," with claims drawn to pluripotent human embryonic stem, or ES, cells derived...