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USPTO Denies Siemens' Request for Rehearing in Enzo Patent Interference Case


This article was originally published on May 17.

Enzo Biochem said today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics' request for a rehearing in a patent interference dispute related to Enzo's nucleic acid signal amplification technology and Siemens branched DNA diagnostic systems.

Siemens filed the rehearing request in response to a Feb. 22 ruling by the USPTO that Enzo's patent application covering nucleic acid signal amplification predates and invalidates US Patent No. 5,124,246, which is owned by Siemens and relates to the branched DNA technology (PCR Insider, 3/4/2010).

Enzo said that the latest decision means that the USPTO's judgment is now final. Barring any appeals Siemens might file in federal court, Enzo will now receive a full 17-year patent for all inventions covered by the claim, commencing on the date of the patent's issuance.

It is unclear when the patent will be issued to Enzo. The company filed a US priority application, serial no. 06/491,929 in May 1983. The patent application relates to a technology that allows direct detection of nucleic acids without the need for target amplification and without compromising assay sensitivity.

In a March interview with PCR Insider, Enzo Chairman and CEO Elazar Rabbani said that once Enzo has a patent in hand, it plans to quickly develop and market products based on the signal amplification technology for a wide variety of applications, such as molecular diagnostics, immunological studies, protein detection, and small-molecule and ligand studies.

Rabbani also said in a statement that Enzo plans to "expand the application" of the signal amplification technology "beyond the scope of gene-based applications into the field of immunodiagnostics."

A new patent may also enable Enzo to claim infringement by a number of clinical diagnostics and life sciences research products that use variations of the technology. Enzo has not claimed that any particular products infringe its technology.

However, Rabbani said in a statement that the technology "is the basis for a number of significant products in clinical diagnostics and the life sciences field which currently are marketed or licensed by various commercial entities."