California Patent Attorney® Blog

California Based Apple Awarded Patent For Head-Mounted Display Device

July 12, 2012,

apple-store.jpgCalifornia - Head-mounted wearable computers are the hottest new trend electronics. Consequently, industry experts anticipate mainstream use of such devices will explode within the next five years.

In an effort to capitalize on this new trend and compete with Google's recently released similar device, Apple announced this week that it was awarded a patent for its own head-mounted display device. Patent number 8,212,859 covers technology that projects an image in front of the viewer's eyes and is designed to enhance a user's viewing experience. The user then has an augmented view of reality with a see-through image imposed on top of the real-world image. According to the patent description, Apple's device could have several small CRT, LCD or OLED displays embedded in a wearable headset incorporated into a helmet, pair of glasses, or a visor.

To capture an even larger market share for head-mounted display devices, Apple is planning on adding sophisticated app development, a possible second display, processor memory and advanced user interfaces. Originally filed back in 2006, the patent for the new technology could also possibly be utilized by heath-care professionals in day-to-day procedures. Developers claim that surgeons could use the product to display information while they operate, such as MRI imaging, CAT scans or other radiographic data. Additionally, Apple anticipates potential use for military, police and firefighters, who could use the new product to display tactical information. The headset could provide an invaluable tool for viewing maps and thermal imaging information, as well as for traditional uses like gaming or internet entertainment applications.

Much like the Apple device, Google recently developed Google Glass, a highly anticipated product utilizing computerized glasses technology. The Android-based glasses have a GPS sensor, cameras, speakers, a microphone and a processor memory. However, unlike the new Apple product, the Google Glass sits slightly above the viewer's eyes, so as to not interfere with vision. Gamers and technology experts anxiously await the introduction of both products into stores and will likely provide multiple reviews within the coming months. Samples of the products are set to be released in 2013 with mass production scheduled for 2014.

Patent Trolls Cost U.S. Companies Billions in Patent Infringement Lawsuits

July 5, 2012,

courthouse.jpgCalifornia - Trolls are well known for their appearance in fairy tales and children's books. However, trolls of a different kind, patent trolls, or non-practicing entities, are companies that buy patents with no intention of producing or manufacturing any actual products. Instead, they make money by suing companies that produce products using the patents or parts of the patent they own. A recent study from Boston University claims that patent trolls cost U.S. Companies a staggering 29 billion dollars in damages and fees per year. The study, conducted by two Boston University professors, determined that businesses suffered massive losses during the litigation from over 5,842 lawsuits filed in 2011 related to patent infringement.

Data was provided by 82 software and hardware companies and included research on small, medium and large sized companies. The study showed that small and medium sized companies bear most of the cost burden for patent litigation. Small businesses are the hardest hit because they typically do not have as much funding to devote to expensive litigation. In addition, most of the litigation was comprised of "nuisance lawsuits", that were settled for a few hundred thousand dollars, or less. Only a few of the lawsuits studied were worth millions of dollars. The authors of the B.U. report argue that the rapid growth of patent lawsuits and high court cost should trigger significant warnings for policy makers. They insist that the patent system needs major reform, and the way patent litigation is handled by the courts needs greater transparency. Furthermore, the system also needs better supervision of patent damage awards, and damages must be more proportionate to the value of the patented technology.

According to the B.U. study, costs have grown significantly for patent litigation over the last ten years. Companies spent $6.7 billion in patent infringement costs in 2005 and $12.6 billion in 2008, before that number jumped to an astonishing $29.2 billion dollars in 2011. These numbers clearly demonstrate that patent trolls cause significant losses by funneling money away from innovation, research and development and into lawsuits and litigation. As such, policy reform may be in order to help provide necessary changes to the patent system, as well as prevent needless and frivolous lawsuits.

Monsanto Sues Industry Giant DuPont For Patent Infringement

June 26, 2012,

wheat-seed.jpgCalifornia - Biotechnology and specifically the genetic engineering of seeds has become an extremely competitive industry. Environmental and population size issues have created the necessity for increased growing seasons and larger, more robust crops.

When traditional methods of producing these crops have been exhausted, farmers often turn to biotechnology to assist them. These biotechnology companies then spend millions to develop technology and almost as much to protect it from competitors. Well known seed engineering company Monsanto proved that it was no exception to this rule when it filed a lawsuit last week against Dupont and its Pioneer Hi-Bred International unit for what it considers an egregious infringement of its seed chipping patent. Filed Monday in Missouri district court, the lawsuit involves technology that identifies genetically modified seeds. Monsanto is asking for an injunction to prevent its competitor from infringing on its patented technology, as well as unspecified monetary damages.

Seed chipping is an important process used to automate samples of material from seeds while still allowing them to be planted later. This process allows for seeds to replicate faster. Monsanto introduced its seed chipping system in August 2007 and quickly patented the technology. Pioneer's "laser-assisted seed selection system" was released a year later. Dupont insists that the technology being used in its own seed-chipping technology was developed separate and apart from that being used by Monsanto. Furthermore, DuPont believes the allegations by Monsanto are without merit and vows to vigorously defend against its competitor's lawsuit.

Founded in 1901, Monsanto is the second largest producer of genetically engineered seeds and the leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup). Located in Creve Coeur, Missouri, Monsanto first produced saccharin for the Coca-Cola Company. Further biotechnology inventions came soon after, and Monsanto quickly became a leader in its field. The Missouri based company has a history of taking its competitors to court to protect its patent portfolio and it hopes this latest lawsuit can be settled quickly and amicably. And despite having to resort to litigation, Monsanto has indicated that it is open to the possibility of licensing its technology to DuPont and Pioneer.

California Pharmaceutical Company Receives European Patent Related to Multiple Sclerosis

June 15, 2012,

dna-strand.jpgCalifornia - Mountain View Pharmaceuticals (also known as 'MVP') announced that it was granted a European Patent titled "Polyethylene Glycol Conjugates of Interferon-beta-1b with Enhanced in vitro Biological Potency." This patent aims to aid in the reduction of cases in which patients with multiple sclerosis suffer from a relapse.

European Patent No. 1,667,708 B1 is just one of the 170 worldwide patents that MVP has been issued. MVP's Vice-President and Scientific Director Dr. Mark G.P. Saifer made a statement regarding the newly assigned patent stating, "In contrast with other patents and publications relating to PEG conjugates of interferon-beta, MVP's new European patent claims polymer conjugates of interferon-beta-1b that have increased in vitro potency, measured with human cancer cells in culture, and methods of synthesis of these novel conjugates. If our preclinical results are predictive of the performance of the PEG conjugates in humans, conversion of interferon-beta-1b to a long-acting form with higher potency could enhance the utility of this drug in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, viral infections and other conditions."

MVP, a privately owned Corporation, uses the polyethylene glycol (PEG) process in multiple of its patents. On its website, MVP uses the following phrase as its motto, "Better PEGs in Better Places for Better Products" and among its many registered trademarks, the pharmaceutical company is the owner of the U.S. trademark 'PharmaPEG' for multiple goods and services. MVP has also recently announced that it will publicize a scientific report that has been titled, "Next-Generation PEGylation Enables Reduced Immunoreactivity of PEG-Protein Conjugates," which will be published in the Drug Development & Delivery's June 2012 issue.

Dr. Merry R. Sherman, Chief Executive Officer and President of MVP stated of its research and newly announced publication, "MVP's technology related to long-acting forms of drugs based on therapeutic enzymes or cytokines is the product of more than a decade of research and represents a major advance directed toward the multi-billion-dollar market for PEGylated proteins," and "Our recent publications illustrating the advantages of PharmaPEG-protein conjugates, compared with conventional mPEG-protein conjugates, are expected to reach a wide audience of pharmaceutical professionals, including those attending the Biotechnology International Organization Conference ("BIO 2012") in Boston." Based on its history, it seems as though MVP has many more ground breaking ideas for the future.

California Based AVT Announces Patent for Remote Vending Machine Technology

June 12, 2012,

vending-machine.jpgCalifornia - AVT, an industry leader in automated vending machine technology, announced today that it was awarded a patent for a newly developed vending machine technology. Among other things, patent 8,191,779 allows owners of computerized vending systems to control almost every aspect of their machine by remote access. There are a total of 19 claims in the patent including those which compile sales information, add advertising revenues to product sales, collect marketing analysis, and receive wireless payments from debit or credit cards, mobile phones or radio frequency identification. Additionally, the new technology includes touch screen interfaces and trouble-shoots potential mechanical or computer problems from remote locations.

Currently, it is estimated that there are over eight million vending machines being used across the United States. As such, the vending machine industry is the largest cash business in the U.S. and the most pervasive retail channel with the highest number of locations. However, unlike other leading industries, vending machines are the only retail channel that does not universally accept credit or debit card payments. Only two to three percent of machines accept cashless payment.

Historically, vending machine owners were plagued with problems accepting credit and debit cards because of a lack of reliable communication between credit card machines and servers. Consequently, transaction times were long and sometimes unreliable. In addition, there was no convenient way to supplement unit sales with advertising revenues. It is estimated that the addition of reliable credit card acceptance methods would increase vending machine sales by up to 40 percent. Moreover, industry experts say that the addition of cashless payment technology, such as the ones offered by AVT in its new patent, would allow owners of vending machines to offer higher-end merchandise, increase total sales per customer, eliminate vandalism and reduce theft.

Based in Corona, California and established in 1969, AVT is the leading developer of automated and self-service retailing systems. Its large portfolio of products includes LCD vending stores, automated retail offices and custom-vending services for gourmet coffees, office supplies, perfumes and high-end merchandise. Its unique vending machine solutions are intended to drive machine traffic, increase sales, improve security and lower company overhead. AVT stated that it has spent over three years and a significant amount of money developing the technology included in its latest patent. AVT is confident that its new technology will change the way consumers purchase vending machine products and redefine the automated retail industry.

Amarin Granted Patent for Key Pharmaceutical Composition

June 8, 2012,

blood-artery.jpgCalifornia - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent for Amarin Corporation's AMR101 last week. The field of pharmaceutical patents is hugely competitive and companies are constantly under pressure to develop new and more effective prescriptions. As such, AMR101 is a key product in the pharmaceutical company's portfolio. As a treatment for high triglycerides, AMR101 is currently undergoing FDA approval, with a decision due in July. In the meantime, Amarin has announced that its product has been successful in multiple Phase III trials. With such positive feedback and test results, AMR101 is primed for success in the marketplace. As a result, the outlook for FDA approval of AMR101 is also extremely positive.

Among the existing pharmaceutical companies, Amarin is in a particularly attractive position because of its current cash value and its prospects for production of many popular patents that have recently expired. Companies seeking to increase their market share of prescriptions can easily pick up production on these expired patents. In addition, there are a number of larger companies such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmith and Human Genome Sciences looking for partnerships. Amarin could easily partner with one of the larger companies and dramatically increase its market share in the field of biopharmaceuticals. Consequently, Amarin could be in prime market position to top the list of hot prospects in 2013 and beyond.

Amarin is a biopharmaceutical company focused primarily on improving treatment of cardiovascular disease. With its U.S. headquarters in Bedminster, New Jersey, Amarin has demonstrated a history of expertise in lipid science and the use of essential fatty acids in treating cardiovascular disease. The therapeutic benefits of AMR101 are intended for patents with high trigylcerides, who are also on statin therapy for elevated LDL-cholesterol levels. It is estimated that over 40 million people suffer from dangerously elevated levels of triglycerides. As a result of these elevated levels, patients have an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease, diabetes and obesity, among other problems. AMR101 is being positioned as a best-in-class prescription for treating these patients and offering them better health, free from diseases caused by elevated triglycerides.

Cohera Medical's Biodegradable Surgical Adhesive Awarded Patent

June 5, 2012,

medical_instruments.jpgCalifornia - Cohera Medical announced today that it has been awarded a patent for its hydrophilic biodegradable adhesives. Hydrophilic biodegradable adhesive products both absorb and dissolve in water, and are highly useful in surgical applications where traditional methods of stitching and stapling may not be as desirable.

The range of products included in the patent cover Cohera's product offerings in surgical adhesive products that are extremely strong, completely synthetic and resorbable by human tissues. Patent number 8,182,647 further involves a broad spectrum of adhesive products including TissuGlu®, a product designed for large flap tissue approximation. The current patent also includes products designed for numerous clinical applications and allows for multiple strengths and cure properties. Such non-traditional adhesive products can be used as alternatives in plastic and aesthetic surgeries such as stomach stapling, tummy tucks, and other cosmetic procedures.

Cohera is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based medical device company with secondary offices in The Netherlands. The medical adhesives company has long held the mission of creating products that improve patient care and quality of life. To that end, Cohera Medical has created a line of products alternative to traditional stitching and stapling methods that are designed for ease of use in the operating theater. In particular, Cohera specializes in adhesive products designed to assist plastic and aesthetic surgeons in a number of procedures reducing or eliminating the need for surgical drains. Cohera's primary adhesive products form a strong and durable bond between tissues, and are resorbable and biocompatible for either internal or external use. Furthermore, Cohera's products are unique from most other products in the market because the ingredients are not human or animal based.

Cohera began selling its tissue adhesive products, including TissuGlu, in Europe after obtaining CE Mark approval in 2011. The range of Cohera products have been successfully used in a wide variety of surgical procedures in Germany over the last year. Cohera Medical's wide range of adhesive products are also currently being used in Europe for such procedures as bowel anastomoses and hernia mesh fixation. The same products, along with a number of new creations, are currently undergoing the process of U.S. Clinical Trials and patent approval.

Apple Applies for Stylus Patent

May 25, 2012,

apple-logo.jpgCalifornia - When the iPhone was first introduced by Apple, Steve Jobs insisted that patenting the stylus was a bad idea and not worth the time and effort involved. However, despite the idea previously being shunned by the internal creative powers at Apple, it has been confirmed that Apple has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for an Optical Stylus.

The current idea being patented is conceptually different from the stylus that most consumers would get with a tablet purchased in the marketplace today. Most stylus products currently being sold are simple optical devices with a pressure sensor that can capture an image using a built in camera. When the stylus touches the prescribed surface, the camera captures the image and relays it to the computer's internal parts, which in turn tells the computer what to do. But today's consumers are more technically savvy than ever and expect more from their products than what a simple stylus has traditionally done. To that end, Apple's newest stylus patent could possibly include several different high-tech variations, including but not limited to: accelerometers, gyroscopes, haptic feedback and/or multiple orientation determining sensors.

It should be noted that the patent application does not mean that Apple plans to market the next iPad with a stylus. However, Apple has traditionally been a creative leader in the computer field and the new stylus ideas are no exception. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the creative design teams would spend so much time and energy on new stylus ideas if there weren't some products being planned that would incorporate the new stylus ideas in some iteration or another.

This is not to say that the designers at Apple have surmounted the convenience problems that most consumers have with a stylus. Jobs himself famously complained that a stylus was inconvenient and easy to lose. Consequently, even with a convenient space to store the stylus, many consumers end up misplacing the smaller part sooner or later. But with new and creative concepts constantly being bandied about at Apple, it is likely that the creative teams will market the new products and stylus ideas with some interesting new storage ideas.

TeleCommunication Systems Receives 35 More U.S. Patents in Mobile Mapping Technology

May 14, 2012,

navigate_directions.jpgCalifornia - TeleCommunication Systems is known for its groundbreaking advancements in mobile communication technology. It has recently been granted 35 more patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office related to messaging, wireless data, and public safety. Maurice Tose, the chairman, CEO, and president of TeleCommunication Systems stated, "TCS has long been a pioneer and leading innovator in messaging, mobile location/mapping, public safety and wireless technology" and "these 35 new patents - including the 13 mapping & location patents - demonstrate our continued commitment to apply innovative engineering solutions to improve mobile device communications."

The patents related to "Navigation and Route Determination" include U.S. Patent No. 8,090,534 a "Method and System for Enabling an Off-Board Navigation Solution" and U.S. Patent No. 8,169,343 a "Method and System for Saving and Retrieving Spatial Related Information", as well as three other patents. These patents will allow users to request a particular navigation route by voice while also saving the request. The user will also be able to affiliate a certain image to a specific destination or route.

Also added to TeleCommunication's intellectual property portfolio are patents related to the location of a caller and receiver. For example, a person making a phone call will be able to allow the receiver to view the caller's location by viewing their GPS coordinates. The patents associated with the "Locating a User Technique" include U.S. Patent No. 8,165,603 for a "Personal Location Code", U.S. Patent No. 8,126,889 for a "Location Fidelity Adjustment Based on Mobile Subscriber Privacy Profile" and U.S. Patent No. 8,032,112 for "Location Derived Presence Information". With regard to security, the user will also be able to adjust the security settings on their phone to enable or disable a receiver from viewing the location of the user.

Bob Held, a senior director of intellectual asset management for TeleCommunication Systems stated, "there are significant opportunities to leverage our company's 200+ patents and other intellectual property around the world, through both licensing and partnership arrangements in core and non-core business areas." By this statement we can be sure that TeleCommunication Systems has no plans to stop filing patent applications.

Facebook Receives Patent on News Feed

May 7, 2012,

facebook.jpgCalifornia - Facebook has been issued yet another patent related to the News Feed, almost six years after filing for it. Granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the new patent lists co-founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg as one of the inventors.

The News Feed patent is described as: "Communicating a news feed of media content based on a member's interactions in a social network environment." The invention allows Facebook to let users not only view status messages, photos, and links to videos of online friends, but also particular actions their friends are taking. Such actions could include commenting on posts from other users or playing games.

Facebook's U.S. Patent No. 8,171,128 is further described as: "a system and method for providing dynamically selected media content to someone using an electronic device in a social network environment. Items of media content are selected for the user based on his or her relationships with one or more other users. The user's relationships with other users are reflected in the selected media content and its format. An order is assigned to the items of media content, for example, based on their anticipated importance to the user, and the items of media content are displayed to the user in the assigned order. The user may change the order of the items of media content. The user's interactions with media content available in the social network environment are monitored, and those interactions are used to select additional items of media content for the user."

In its application, Facebook described its method of allowing users to view certain status updates, pictures, links to videos, and their friends' actions. The patent will let Facebook keep a profile of each user on the social network in a database, then identify the relationships between users, generating "stories" based on the connections with each other, and then creating a News Feed for each user.

The patent will also allow Facebook to monitor what actions the viewer takes in response to the stories, such as Liking, Sharing, or Commenting, and then uses that data to generate more stories.

California Based Apple Sued for Patent Infringement Over Touch Technology

April 24, 2012,

apple-logo-gray.jpgCalifornia - FlatWorld Interactives is suing Apple for patent infringement alleging that Apple's touch technology infringes one of FlatWorld's patents. The company out of Pennsylvania is seeking a permanent injunction from the infringement and for compensatory damages as well.

According to the complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Northern California District of California, FlatWorld is accusing Apple of knowingly infringing its patents with products such as its iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. FlatWorld is a designer of touchscreen systems used in museum displays.

In addition to seeking a jury trial, FlatWorld is requesting an immediate injunction to ban Apple from the alleged infringement. Patent attorneys representing FlatWorld claim that Apple's infringement has been on such a large scale that it has caused the company irreparable harm. Flatworld is seeking monetary damages appropriate to the level of infringement, however the amount was not specified.

The FlatWorld patent at issue involves technology that allows users to manipulate images using gestures such as flicking images off the screen and selecting the image by touching it. The goal of the gesture recognition technique is for children to have an easier and more intuitive way of interacting with computers.

FlatWorld Interactive was founded in January 2007 by cognitive science and digital design professor Slavko Milekic. Ten years earlier in 1997, Milekic had filed a provisional patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the technology, claiming priority of use from that date. He was then granted U.S. Patent No. 6,920,619 in July 2005. After creating FlatWorld in 2007, Milekic assigned the patent to the company.

The companies are scheduled to appear in a case management conference later this year to discuss the important issues in the case to avoid an unnecessary and demanding discovery process when preparing for trial.

No comment was available from Apple on the pending litigation.

Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights Play a Pivotal Role in the U.S. Economy

April 19, 2012,

ideadice.jpgCalifornia - The Department of Commerce has released a new report titled "Intellectual Property and the U.S. Economy: Industries in Focus," which sets out the pivotal role that intellectual property plays in the U.S. economy.

According to the report, IP related jobs are at the top of the list for newly created jobs and IP-intensive jobs are said to pay at least 42% higher in wages than other popular job sectors at this time. The Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson stated, "It's clear that intellectual property protection is more critical than ever" and "When Americans know their ideas will be protected, they have greater incentive to pursue advances in technologies. That helps keep us competitive and makes us competitive into the future." According to the Commerce Secretary, "industries affected by intellectual property account for more than 40 million jobs, 61% of exports and more than $775 billion in goods and services."

Most companies want to protect their intellectual property rights whether it is through a patent, copyright, or trademark. A company's intellectual property portfolio is a vital asset to its growth. Therefore, jobs in IP related fields are widely expanding. According to the Economics and Statistics Administration and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in 2010 the 75 IP-intensive related industries produced approximately 35 percent of the gross domestic product in the U.S. or about $5.06 trillion.

The report released from the Department of Commerce, which emphasizes the importance of intellectual property protection, comes just one year after the US International Trade Commission disclosed in a similar report that the lack of monitoring and enforcing of IP rights in China cost U.S. IP-intensive companies $50 billion a year. The report made by the Trade Commission also reports that the lack of worldwide IP protection might also jeopardize up to 2.1 million jobs.

Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stated, "In laboratories and studios and research hubs, and even in home garages, entrepreneurs and innovators are hard at work turning their ideas into real products," and "innovation can't create jobs without strong IP protection."

According to the Department of Commerce report, IP jobs in the U.S. are mainly clustered on the West and East Coasts.

Oracle Rejects $3 Million Offer from Google in Patent Infringement Dispute

April 11, 2012,

google.jpgCalifornia - Tech giant Oracle has rejected a three million dollar settlement offer from Google in an ongoing patent infringement lawsuit where Oracle is alleging that Google's Android operating system is infringing its Java patents. In addition to the $3 million offer, Google was also willing to pay Oracle one percent of revenue from its Android platform, which was also rejected by Oracle. It has been reported that Oracle is seeking billions of dollars in damages for the alleged infringement.

With its settlement attempts turned down, the two companies will present their cases in front of a federal grand jury later this month.

"Oracle cannot agree to Google's proposal that Oracle waive its constitutional right to a jury trial," stated lawyers for Oracle in a court document filed last week. They added, "Although there are issues for the Court to decide, there are substantial questions for the jury as well."

The original patent infringement claims against Google were filed back in August 2010, and alleged that the maker of the Android operating system "knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property" and sought "appropriate remedies." The specific patent at issue involves the technology for the Dalvik virtual machine used in the Android systems.

Google has challenged Oracle's claims of patent infringement and has used the argument that it had rights to use the Java patents in a pre-existing agreement with Sun Microsystems, who developed and owned the patents before the company was acquired by Oracle in April 2009.

Earlier this year, the most widely-used web-based search engine in the world suffered a major setback in the lawsuit when its bid to have an incriminating company email dismissed from evidence was denied by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. The email was sent between Google engineers and strongly suggested that Google was indeed infringing the Java patents and that it should negotiate a licensing deal with Oracle, because no other technologies would be appropriate for use with Android and Chrome.

Both Oracle and Google denied to further comment on the issue.

U.S. Supreme Court Orders Review of Myriad Gene Patents

April 3, 2012,

courthouse.jpgCalifornia - Should human genes be allowed to be patented? This question has fueled the ongoing debate between organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union who argues that genes shouldn't be patented. On the other side of the fence are companies who pose the argument that a patent is a reward for time and money spent on research. Just last week the U.S. Supreme Court overturned two gene patents belonging to Myriad Genetics. The Salt Lake City, Utah based company uses BRACAnalysis testing which looks for mutations on the breast cancer predisposition gene. This testing is also known as BRCA, which locates mutations that are associated with much larger risks of breast and ovarian cancer.

In 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation challenged Myriad's two patents known as BRCA1 and BRCA 2 when it sued Myriad in the U.S. District Court of New York. In 2010, a U.S. District judge in New York agreed with the plaintiff's and deemed the patents invalid. However, in 2011 the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. overturned the ruling in a 2-1 decision. The plaintiff's then brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court where it ordered that there be further review of the gene patents case by a lower court.

In a similar case, the U.S. Supreme Court also recently ruled that Prometheus Laboratories was not eligible for a blood test patent because the patent "merely reflected a law of nature." It is still questionable as to just how much the Prometheus case will affect Myriad's chance of keeping its gene patents once and for all.

Peter Meldrum, Myriad Genetics CEO and President stated in a news release, "While this case should not have any direct impact to Myriad and its operations because of our extensive patent estate, it has great importance to the medical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and other commercial industries, as well as the hundreds of millions of people whose lives are bettered by the products these industries develop based on the promise of strong patent protection."

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.