Name Your Price? The New Proposed No-fault Patent License

The creator of Priceline, Jay Walker, has become fascinated by patents and patent licensing it seems.  He has bought and merged several patent holding (some say patent troll) companies and proposed creation of a new agency called the “United States Patent Utility”.  It would act as ASCAP works for copyright protection, charging license fees, negotiating with potential users and presumably sending cease and desist letters to potential infringers. 

Will this work because patents have become as narrow as copyrights, and their value is as low?  Are patent attorneys or licensing attorneys now irrelevant to patent licensing?  Or is the specialization of licensing becoming even more narrow and parochial?

Go to:

Press Release: May 14, 2014, “Board Members Announced for Patent Licensing Entity

[PLI Patent Law Center News, “Jay Walker Licensing Plan Takes Shape”

Patents issue to Advaxis, Inc. for cancer immunotherapies for solid tumors in humans and dogs

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has approved notices of issuance for two patents covering the composition and methods of use for ADXS-cHER2 (Patent Numbers 11/415,271, 12/213,969 and 13/254607). Advaxis is developing ADXS-cHER2 to target the Her2 receptor, which is overexpressed in certain solid-tumor cancers, including bone cancer (or osteosarcoma), breast cancer, esophageal, and gastric cancer. Advaxis plans to initiate a Phase 1 trial with ADXS-cHER2 in pediatric osteosarcoma, for which it received Orphan Drug Designation, and is pursuing early development clinical collaborations for breast, esophageal and gastric cancers.

Mainly, these patents cover the molecular composition of the ADXS-cHER2 compound, as well as methods of use against tumors that express the protein Her2/neu in humans. It also covers other medical applications for ADXS-cHER2. And importantly for media outlets looking for news stories, these patents also cover the use of ADXS-cHER2 in dogs.

Date: June 30, 2014

Posner Pronounces Promega Pilfered Patented Process

Click here to read Posner opinion in Promega v. Life Technologies, 2013

While sitting as a judge in the Northern District of Illinois, Judge Posner has ruled in a 15-page Markman opinion that Promega’s DNA fingerprint kit infringes on a patented process licensed by Applied Bioscience from Caltech. In the brief opinion, Posner rejects Promega’s efforts to narrow the patent’s claims beyond those regularly understood by expert scientists. Unfortunately for those watching SCOTUS and its rulings with regard to the Myriad case, Posner very clearly does not comment on the validity of the claims. We’ll have to stay tuned for that one.

The latter portion of the opinion is a veritable collection of USPTO Patent Bar test answers. Posner rejected arguments that the Caltech patent did not try to improperly “recapture reissue” by improperly broadening its claims in reissue. Next, he explained away Promega’s arguments that there was laches/equitable estoppel in the prosecution of the claims. He deals a coup de grace to arguments with regard to priority based on waiver and abandonment of a prior continuation application as the proper extension of time was sought and used. Lastly, he shuts the door on any admission that might be contained in a cross-license.

Posner’s job at the lower court may have been made easier by agreements in the cross-license that the patent claims were valid. Of course, Posner stays far away from any implication that this might have impacted his views on infringement. Of course, we know that Posner would never allow such a collateral issue to color his views while examining claims.

This is not the last word regarding these much litigated Caltech patents. So stay tuned for more soon.

“Sea change” coming for cancer treatments

With the human genome project over, and new details of cancer oncogenes and tumor suppressors coming daily, where are the new treatments for cancer? A new article discusses how the FDA is working with researchers to expedite or ‘fast track’ certain kinds of therapeutic drugs to locate individualized breakthroughs faster and sooner.

This is the promise of gene sequencing finally coming to fruition. While real complexity still exists, the promise of customized cancer treatments is becoming a reality. Tumors are being sequenced in the hundreds if not thousands, and their differences and similarities charted, picked apart and compared.

For example, in September of 2012, a group of researchers called the Cancer Genome Atlas Network further dissected the types and subtypes of breast cancer. Using genomic analysis, four distinct sub-types exist with vastly different genetic profiles in terms of what proteins will turn their internal switches ‘off’ or ‘on’.

These types of discoveries will help us finally unravel the complexities of cancer. Once a sequence is known, along with its epigentics, protogenomics and metabiolomics together new powerful therapies can be readily created.

Yet, even as these new technologies flourish, the Supreme Court stands ready to exclude them from patent protection as “unpatentable abstract ideas.” The ACLU has successfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the issue of “whether human genes can be patented” in the case of Association of Advanced Pathology vs. Myriad. Unfortunately, this is not an issue that needs to be decided. The work that has been performed by doctors, researchers, laboratories and companies on each and every diagnostic tool and therapy is not a “human gene” and has taken thousands of person-hours to develop. A patent also is not forever, and without some expectation of recouping research costs, who will bother with small subsets of cancers when huge drug conglomerates will swoop in and steal their work as soon as it is published?

As first world countries agonize over how to eliminate carcinogens from our world, the medical world may beat us to the punch with cures for many if not most cancers. It is an idealist’s wish, but science has created hope for some of that idealism to come true. Let’s hope that the work, creativity and unique nature of these discoveries is given the credit and protection it is due.

Can Mattel and MGM play nice if ordered to by the court?

The carousel of verdicts that is the “Barbie vs. Bratz” case has gone around one more time. Now, MGM appears to have the upper hand, at least for now. The jury’s 2011 verdict for MGM has been slashed in half by the Ninth Circuit, and MGM’s trade secret claim has been thrown out, albeit without prejudice. Specifically, on January 25, 2013, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski issued a terse, two-page order overturning half of the approximately $175 million jury award. 2013 DJDAR 1040 (January 25, 2013).

To put this seemingly innocuous ruling in perspective, let’s recap a bit:

The case dates back to its original filing in 2004 in Los Angeles’ federal court. See

In 2008, during the first trial, a jury awarded Mattel $100 million in damages for copyright violations it alleged and trade secret theft by one of its employees who left Mattel to create the Bratz dolls at MGM.

In 2010, the Ninth Circuit reversed the jury verdict (see Mattel, Inc. v. MGA Entm’t, Inc., 616 F.3d 904, 918. MGA went on the offensive, filing a claim against Mattel for trade secret misappropriation.

Then in April of 2011, during the retrial, the new jury went completely the opposite way, ruling that Mattel was entitled to $10,000, but that MGM was entitled to approximately $80 million for trade secret theft and a staggering $137 million in attorneys’ fees for having to endure the legal battle with Mattel (who was now on the losing side). (see accessed on 2/5/2013). What firm was able to bill $137 million in seven years? None other than Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

So back to the latest ruling in which Chief Judge Alex Kozinski has issued another succinct yet weighty proclaimation. First, Judge Kozinski zigged for Mattel, as the $80 million awarded by the jury to the Bratz owners for trade secret theft was tossed alongside with Mattel’s trade secret theft claims. MGM’s claims for trade secret theft should “not have reached this jury” according to the Chief Judge.

But just as one hand giveth, the other taketh away: Next, Kozinski approved the stunning $137 million award to MGM in the cost of its attorney’s fees. In five brusque paragraphs, with very little discussion, the opinion is a stinging rebuke of one of the countries’ leading law firms, Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. One of the most telling quotes was an affirmation that Mattel’s scorched earth strategy was simply “stunning in scope and unreasonable in the relief it requested.'”

Finally, Judge Kozinski, who always enjoys the last word, ended the opinion by writing “While this may not be the last word on the subject, perhaps Mattel and MGA can take a lesson from their target demographic: Play nice.” We’ll wait for the last word on that one, but we won’t be holding our breath.

History of Science Blogs (already?!)

As science on the internet matures, an actual history of science on the internet necessarily is spawning.  Scientific American columnist Bora Zivkovic has written an in-depth article going back into our recent memories: take a walk back in time to the days of usenets, html perl scripts and plain old flame wars.

See also: (evolution and history of science) (medicine)

Pandas’ Thumb: (evolution)



Hope and courag…

Hope and courage are on display at the 8th Annual Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization conference “Asbestos: An International Public Health Crisis”, March 30-April 1, 2012 at the Manhattan Beach Marriott.  Director Linda Reinstein has moved mountains to assemble world leaders in science, law and public policy on the current state of asbestos research, mesothelioma cures and the effort to ban asbestos worldwide.  Check out the proceedings at and by searching on the hashtag #adao on Twitter.  

Fraley v Facebook: We are all truly Famous now

Were you wondering if Facebook’s privacy policy (or should we say, anti-privacy policy) is constitutional? Legal? Ethical? Well, the good folks at Covington & Burling have tried to answer that for you in the Stanford Law Review.

What is really fascinating is reading what the real computer geeks think about this at Slashdot.

Compare, contrast, discuss.

India faces asbestos epidemic according to The Lancet

A report in the influential medical journal "The Lancet" shows how the deadly work of the Canadian Chrysotile Institute continues to kill and maim thousands every year in developing nations.  A silent Bhopal is happening every year — here are some shocking statistics:

From 2000—07, India 's use of asbestos rose from roughly 125 000 metric tonnes to about 300 000. Nearly all of India 's asbestos is mixed with cement to form roofing sheets. Bolstered by asbestos import tariffs that have been reduced from 78% in the mid-1990s to 15% by 2004, the country's asbestos-cement industry is increasing by roughly 10% every year, employing in excess of 100 000 people. Since 2003, companies no longer require a special licence to import chrysotile.

Since 1960, India has incorporated about 7 million tonnes of asbestos into its buildings. The health consequences are already apparent, but the scale of the problem is not clear. “The Government of India has a very poor, almost non-existent, system to record death and disease”, explains Arthur Frank from Drexel University , Philadelphia , PA , USA . Besides, cancer is not a notifiable disease. Frank cites a hospital in Mumbai which sees a dozen cases of mesothelioma every year. Studies have shown high rates of asbestosis among workers in the industry, including in those whose exposure to the material has spanned less than 5 years. “But I suspect that there has been no real assessment of [asbestos-related disease] to the point that you can get accurate figures”, Frank concedes".

To read more, go to The Lancet online at:

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Nanotubes: Do they cause cancers like mesothelioma?

A controversy is brewing regarding the health effects of new high-tech carbon nanotubes. These products are already in use in industries as wide ranging as high-end bicycle frame construction to electronics to medical applications.

According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and US EPA, the answer may be yes. While this is a hot area of research and corporate growth, preventing another massive, quiet epidemic of cancer is worth the wait.

See also:

Centers for Disease Control:
2. Nanotech Firms Fear New EPA Regs: