The Biotechnology Industry Organization sent a letter last week to the White House asking President Bush to increase capacity at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
“We believe it is critical for your administration to take steps to ensure that the US Patent and Trademark Office has adequate funding in the years to come,” read the letter to Bush, sent by BIO President Carl B. Feldbaum.
This plea is of particular urgency for genomics companies. Biotech firms currently have between 25,000 and 30,000 patents pending at PTO, 4,000 of which are DNA patents, according to Sharon Cohen, BIO’s chief lobbyist.
Many firms have complained that the PTO lacks the computer search capacity and the expertise to review complicated genomics patents. PTO spokesperson Brigid Quinn has indicated that the office will will hire 700 new patent examiners in 2002, and “many of them will be assigned to biotechnology,” she said.
Robert Leif of Newport Instruments in San Diego received US Patent Number 6,340,744, “Reagent system and method for increasing the luminescence of lanthanide(III) macrocyclic complexes.” The patent covers a luminescient composition and process for increasing luminescence of macrocycle compounds that contain lanthanide. The luminescent composition and method are detectable by spectrofluorimetry, and can be used in microarray-based detection. The method uses one surfactant that produces micelles, an energy transfer acceptor lanthanide macrocycle compound, and an energy transfer donor compound of yttrium or a 3-valent lanthanide element. The ida behind the patent is to allow cost-effective and simple detection and quantitation of analytes in low concentration.
Galapagos Genomics of Mechelen, Belgium has received US Patent Number 6,340,595, “High-throughput screening of gene function using adenoviral libraries for functional genomics applications.” The patent covers methods for determining nucleic acid function using synthetic oligonucleotides, DNA, and cDNA. The nucleic acids are expressed in a host, altering the host phenotype. The altered phenotype is then used to determine biological function of the products that the genes encode.
The University of Chicago has received World Patent Number WO0065098, “Nucleotide extension on a microarray of gel immobilized primers.” The patent covers methods that use primers or sets of primers to extend nucleotides immobilized within the gel pads of a biochip and detect specific molecules. The purpose of the method is to detect polymorphisms.
Nippon Laser Denshi KK of Japan has received World Patent Number WO0186294, “Method of Constructing Polynucleotide Microarray, Apparatus for the construction and polynucleotide microarray.” This patent covers a method of constructing an array that can detect even short chain oligonucleotides that have difficulty being immobilized with electrostatic bonds. The method involves constructing the array in which the polynucleotide is dissolved in a mixture consisting of water and an organic solvent that comprises less than 50 percent of the solution, which is free from anionic electrolytes.