The US patent office has upheld one of three patents on embryonic stem cells that had been challenged as overly broad. The patents are held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which has broad patent claims on the derivation, use and culture of human and primate embryonic stem cells. These have been challenged by researchers who say, among other things, that the patents unduly stall research and development. (See our an accounton these challenges by Jeanne Loring.)
Ken Taymor of the Centerfor Law, Business, and Economy at Berkeley told the The Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog that even though the the first is still ongoing over two other patents, both WARF and its icensee Geron have plenty of other patents they can enforce. Taymor has prevsiously argued that the patent challenges could actually strengthen WARF’s position. (See our blog on that topic here; it starts in the fourth paragraph) Patent challengers already say that they’ve seen success because WARF is narrowing its claims and being more generous with researchers who want to use its cell lines.