California Patent Attorney® Blog

March 2012 Archives

U.S. Patent Office Re-Affirms "Zamore Design Rule" Patents

March 20, 2012,

dna-strand.jpgCaliornia - The United States Patent and Trademark Office re-affirmed four patents (US 7,459,547, US 7,732,593, US 7,772,203 and US 7,750,144) known as the "Zamore Design Rule" patents following a re-examination requested by an anonymous third party, which previously issued as patents last year. The "Zamore Design Rule" patents are owned by the University of Massachusetts and are exclusively licensed to Silence Therapeutics. What makes these patents important is that they cover methods of promoting the incorporation of a desired guide strand into the RNA-Inducing Silencing Complex (RISC) through structural modifications, resulting in more effective and selective RNAi knockdown. By increasing the effectiveness of RNAi therapeutics, unwanted cellular activity and side effects are minimized.

More specifically, the "Zamore Design Rule" patents describe methods of enhancing the ability of an antisense strand of an RNAi agent to act as a guide strand; codify RNAi and siRNA agents for enhancing silencing of a target mRNA in an organism; and cover the composition of siRNA duplexes, pre-miRNA and shRNA in the process of RNA interference.

With this ruling, Silence Therapeutics will receive broad patent coverage for all structural and chemical approaches that incorporate bioinformatics pre-selection sequence algorithms in finding efficacious RNAi triggers. Any company using modified nucleotides for any purpose may have to be concerned that their process will infringe on Silence's patents.

Dr. Phillip Zamore, innovator of this process and professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, stated, "the initial granting of these patents was a significant milestone in the translation of the basic science of RNA interference into the real world of RNA therapeutics."

After a patent has been unsuccessfully challenged through re-examination, its value is considered higher. Knowing its proven value, companies such as Novartis are expressing interest in licensing the "Zamore Design Rule" patents.

Apple's iWallet Patent Approved

March 12, 2012,

apple-logo.jpgCalifornia - Patently Apple announced Wednesday, March 7, 2012, that Apple's patent for iWallet has been approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Patently Apple reports, "Today, Apple has been granted a major iWallet patent and it's one that has never been reported on before. Apple's patent reviews credit card transaction rules and shows us that the credit card companies will be sending statements directly to your iTunes account." The iWallet patent, which first appeared in May 2010, will allow users to purchase items, set spending limits, receive credit card statements, and much more all through iTunes.

iWallet will also contain a restriction feature which will allow parents or employers to set restriction controls such as blocking certain retailers and would decline a transaction and send an email alert when such a transaction has been attempted. If a minor used the iWallet, a parent could set restrictions similar to the television or internet. For example, using iTunes a parent could block alcohol or tobacco retailers and if their child attempted to purchase an item at the blocked retailer, the parent would be sent an email notification and the purchase would be declined. This feature would also benefit an employer and employee, allowing an employer to view purchases and allow set spending limits at retailer stores such as gas stations.

The iWallet patent figures include images consisting of an iPhone screen with an application referred to as "Card Profile", where the user could go to customize their settings and input their credit card information, set billing alerts, add or remove credit cards users, etc. The iWallet feature would be located in the iTunes application under "Services".

With this exciting news, Patently Apple stated in their report "Who knows, perhaps one day Apple's iWallet will rule the world: the financial world that is." This statement may have some truth to it when it comes to ruling the world, the World Wide Web that is.

Scientists in Mexico Patent Vaccine to Prevent Heroin Addiction

March 2, 2012,

poppy_field.jpgCalifornia - A group of scientific researchers in Mexico have successfully patented a vaccine in the United States that will help reduce heroine addiction in drug users. The scientists at Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry claim that the patented vaccine has been successfully tested on laboratory mice and will soon be tested on humans addicted to the dangerous narcotic.

Over the past decade, the country of Mexico has grappled with relentless drug-related violence as Mexican cartels compete to control the trafficking of illegal drugs into the United States. In January 2012, the Mexican government reported that 47,515 people had been murdered in drug-related violence since President Calderon began a military assault on the cartels in 2006. Mexico has also reported an increase in its own citizens addicted to the substance, with over 500,000 drug addicts, mostly along the trafficking corridors of the Mexico-U.S. border.

The vaccine which is already patented in the United States, helps reduce addiction in users by making the body resistant to the effects of heroine, so that the users would no longer receive a rush of pleasure after smoking or injecting the drug. The scientists have reportedly received funds from both the Mexican and United States government in order to continue their research and testing of the vaccine.

"It would be a vaccine for people who are serious addicts, who have not had success with other treatments and decide to use this application to get away from drugs," stated Maria Elena Medina, Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry's director.

Currently, the most common addiction management drug treatment is Methadone. Methadone is useful in the treatment of opioid dependence and in high doses, can block the feelings of euphoria caused by taking heroin, morphine, and similar drugs. Although proven to be effective at managing addiction, many unpleasant side effects have been reported from Methadone use.

During the testing phase on the mice, the animals were given access to measured deposits of heroin given over an extended period of time. The mice that were administered the vaccine demonstrated a huge decrease in consumption of the drug, therefore giving the scientists hope that the vaccine could be effective on humans as well.

If proven successful in humans, the patented vaccine could be available in the U.S. medical market in five years. The United States National Institute on Drug Abuse is reportedly working on creating a similar vaccine, one that would treat cocaine abuse instead.