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WARF loses a round in stem cell patent dispute

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has suffered a blow in its effort to protect a key patent for embryonic stem cell technology.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week reversed an earlier decision in which it rejected an appeal on one of three basic human embryonic stem cell patents held by the foundation, known as WARF.

The patent in question covers early work done by University of Wisconsin - Madison stem cell pioneer James Thomson. The patent office said it now agrees with the argument made by two foundations that Thomson's work covered by the single patent could have been performed by other scientists with access to the same resources.

The rejection does not affect a decision the patent office made in early 2008 to uphold two other basic embryonic stem cell patents held by WARF.

"WARF has been invited by the Board of Patent Appeals to continue prosecution of this application and plans to do so and vigorously pursue these claims with the patent office," the foundation said in a statement.

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