Wednesday, January 29, 2003

patent progress [Globe]
[Biotech companies used to] file massive patent applications comprising hundreds of thousands of pages of genetic code, claiming dominion over thousands of genes or gene fragments. The filings, usually packaged on compact disks to accommodate their extreme length, were euphemistically referred to by patent examiners as ''large sequence cases.''

In the past two years, the patent office has clamped down on gigantic filings by biotech firms. It's also raised the standards applicants must meet to win a patent on genes or gene-related discoveries. Just as important, companies have figured out ways to work around issued patents for specific genes and proteins.

''The land grab is over,'' said Kate Murashige, a partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP specializing in intellectual property for pharmaceuticals. ''It was a game that was bound to fail.''

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