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Gene fragment patents do not preclude subsequent patents for full gene, PTO tells NIH.

Executive Summary

GENE FRAGMENT PATENTS DO NOT PRECLUDE SUBSEQUENT FULL GENE PATENTS, PTO Commissioner Bruce Lehman said in a recent letter to the National Institutes of Health. "Patent claims, limited in scope to a specific novel and non-obvious EST [expressed sequence tag], generally should not preclude the future patenting of the corresponding, later discovered, full length gene of known function or of therapeutic technologies arising therefrom," Lehman wrote in the April 2 letter. The letter responds to two NIH letters sent to PTO in late March -- one from NIH Director Harold Varmus and the other from Office of Technology Transfer's Jack Spiegel.

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