This past week, a victory was to be had in the name of science, namely stem cell research. PUBPAT, Daniel Ravicher’s organization that strongly advocates patent reform, and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to invalidate two of WARF’s patents. WARF holds several patents which are essential for stem cell research. In Mr. Ravicher’s words from a recent press release, “WARF’s patents are wholly without merit because James Thomson ( the UW-Madison professor who isolated human embryonic stem cells in 1998) did not — in fact — invent human embryonic stem cells.” As a result, the patents are currently being re-examined by the USPTO. In the meantime (presumably in an effort to prevent a lawsuit should the re-exam hold the patents valid), WARF has offered a proverbial ââ?¬Ë?olive branchââ?¬â?¢ by allowing industry-sponsored research at academic and non-profit institutions use of their patented technology without a license. However, in keeping with the Constitutional aim of promoting the useful arts, PUBPAT and the FTCR still see the patents place a substantial hurdle to research and innovation in this burgeoning and important field of science. Their stance remains firm that the patents must go the way of the dodo, and the re-exam is only the first shot across WARFââ?¬â?¢s bow.

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