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USPTO Rules in Favor of Agilent in AP-MALDI Dispute with University of California

NEW YORK, May 18 (GenomeWeb News) - The US Patent and Trademark Office has determined that Agilent Technologies may not have been the first to the patent office, but it did beat the University of California in developing an improved method of mass spectrometry, and therefore deserves a patent for the technology.

Based on the USPTO ruling, "most of the claims" of a University of California patent covering the technology have been canceled, and a patent is expected to be issued "soon" to Agilent, the company said today.

Agilent said that the USPTO's Board of Patent Appeals ruled in its favor in an interference proceeding regarding its 1998 patent application covering atmospheric pressure matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (AP-MALDI), a method that permits ionization to take place at atmospheric pressure, eliminating the need for a high vacuum.

The proceeding -- conducted to determine priority of invention between contested patent applications - was held on Feb. 19 to address the dispute between Agilent and the University of California, which also applied for a patent related to AP-MALDI. Although the patent (US Patent 5,965,884) was initially issued to the University of California, the patent office "declared an interference between the University of California patent and the Agilent application because they covered the same inventive subject matter," Agilent said.

Three administrative patent judges awarded priority to Agilent "after evaluating the evidence surrounding the independent inventions of the two parties," Agilent said.

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