An interesting aside to BD’s planned sale of Clontech is how it might affect the licensing minefield that is GFP — or more specifically, GFP from the jellyfish Aequoria victoria (AvGFP).
In June, Sian Godwin, GE Healthcare’s product manager for cellular analysis reagents, told Inside Bioassays that GFP is commercially available from Clontech, but in order to purchase it, for-profit organizations must first either take out a license from GE Healthcare, or they must have already had a license with the former Amersham Biosciences. Non-profit organizations are not required to obtain a license for GFP-based research, he said.
Helen Longvill, a PR manager with GE Healthcare’s biosciences division, further clarified this arrangement, and described how it might be affected by a Clontech sale.
“Clontech [has] the rights to sell GFP vectors to not-for-profit organizations — for example, academia — without restriction,” Longvill wrote in an email to Inside Bioassays last week. “Sales for commercial organizations can only be made to companies that GE Healthcare has licensed under the Aurora and BioImage Aequoria victoria GFP patent suites.”
In addition, the purchase of a license from GE Healthcare enables the sub-licensee to buy products from other licensed vendors, including Clontech, Longvill added. “We do not see this situation changing after the sale of Clontech, as any purchaser would inherit the same obligations,” she wrote.
It’s possible, then, that BD Biosciences would have to license the rights to AvGFP from GE Healthcare. Therefore, a more salient question regarding BD’s planned transition is whether this situation might affect its ability to conduct cell-based assays on its flow or imaging platforms.
According to Gene Vivino, vice president of strategic planning and portfolio management for BD Biosciences, it should minimally affect the company because it has a number of reagents in its portfolio to enable its increased cellular analysis aspirations.
“It’s too early to say what the final agreement might look like on the Clontech sale — what we might retain, and what we might not — in terms of technology and asset rights,” Vivino said. “Separately, we have our own technologies that are fully compatible with flow that we own the intellectual property on — similar, but different technologies. If we want to do cellular analysis applications with GFP, for example, our intent is not to constrain ourselves in that area.”