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USPTO Issues Notices of Allowance for Tuschl-II Patent Applications

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Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said this week that the US Patent and Trademark Office has issued notices of allowance for three RNAi-related patent applications from the so-called Tuschl-II intellectual property estate.

The patent applications — Nos. 20110054159, 20110070162, and 20110065109 — are all entitled “RNA Interference-Mediating Small RNA Molecules.”

According to Alnylam, the applications specifically claim two RNA strands 19-to-23 or 19-to-25 nucleotides long with a 3' overhang on at least one of the strands; both chemically modified and unmodified RNAs; and the use of the dsRNAs to cleave target mRNA at a single site.

The company noted that the applications will yield the first patents to emerge from the Tuschl-II IP family.

As reported by Gene Silencing News, the IP has been at the center of much litigation in recent years. In mid-2009, Alnylam and the Max Planck Institute, which licensed the IP to Alnylam, sued the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Massachusetts for allegedly misappropriating certain inventions in Tuschl-II for inclusion in a related patent estate called Tuschl-I (GSN 7/9/2011).

That legal battle was settled in early 2011 (GSN 3/17/2011), but just weeks later the University of Utah sued Alnylam, Max Planck, Whitehead, MIT, and UMass for allegedly failing to name one of its researchers as a co-inventor of the technology covered by Tuschl-II (GSN 3/31/2011).

That suit remains ongoing.

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