Geron Announces Second Interference Over Nuclear Transfer Patents


MENLO PARK, Calif.--(BW HealthWire)--March 11, 2002--Geron Corporation (Nasdaq: GERN) announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, has declared a second interference involving one of the series of patent applications covering nuclear transfer technology licensed to Geron from the Roslin Institute.

In February, Geron announced that the Patent Office had granted Geron's request for an interference between a Roslin/Geron patent application and a University of Massachusetts patent licensed to Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. of Worcester, Massachusetts. The newly declared interference is between the same Roslin/Geron application and a patent application owned by Infigen, Inc. of DeForest, Wisconsin. In both interferences, Roslin/Geron has been declared to be the senior party.

"We welcome the declaration of the second interference and look forward to the resolution of both interferences. We expect these proceedings to make the full scope of our nuclear transfer patent rights clear to all companies planning to commercialize the cloning of animals," said David J. Earp, J.D., Ph.D., Geron's vice president of intellectual property. "Geron has broad patent rights in nuclear transfer technology, as evidenced by our worldwide issued patent rights and the number of companies to which we have granted licenses. While these interferences involve only limited aspects of our nuclear transfer technology, we want to ensure that all aspects of the technology invented at the Roslin Institute and covered by the Roslin/Geron patents can be made available to others through our licensing activities."

A patent interference is a proceeding conducted by the Patent Office in instances where two or more parties claim patent rights to the same technology. The U.S. patent system awards patents to the first party to invent a particular technology. In an interference, the Patent Office determines which party invented the technology first, and awards the patent to that party. The Patent Office presumes that the parties made their inventions in the order of the filing dates for their patent applications -- the party with the earliest filing date is referred to as the "senior party," while those with later filing dates are "junior parties." Unless a junior party can prove that, despite its later filing date, it actually invented the technology before the senior party, the patent is awarded to the senior party.

In this instance, the Patent Office has designated Roslin/Geron as the senior party in the interference and Infigen as the junior party, because the Roslin/Geron patent application has an earlier filing date than the Infigen application. As the junior party, Infigen will bear the burden of proof, and will have to show that its scientists invented the cloning technology ahead of the Roslin scientists.

Geron obtained rights to the nuclear transfer technology underlying the pioneering work that led to the cloning of Dolly the sheep when it acquired Roslin Bio-Med (now Geron Bio-Med) in 1999. As part of that acquisition, Geron obtained a worldwide license from the Roslin Institute to the nuclear transfer patent portfolio. Two U.S. patents have issued from this portfolio to date -- U.S. Patent Nos. 6,147,276 and 6,252,133. These patents are not involved in the interference. Patents covering this technology have been also been granted or accepted in Europe, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa, and further patent applications are pending in these and other countries. In all countries outside of the U.S., patents are awarded to the first party to file a patent application for the technology in question.

Geron is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing therapeutic and diagnostic products for applications in oncology and regenerative medicine, and research tools for drug discovery. Geron's product development programs are based upon three patented core technologies: telomerase, human embryonic stem cells and nuclear transfer.

This news release may contain forward-looking statements made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Investors are cautioned that such forward-looking statements in this press release involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the maintenance of our intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Additional information on potential factors that could affect our results and other risks and uncertainties are detailed from time to time in Geron's periodic reports, including the annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2001.

Additional information about Geron Corporation can be obtained at http://www.geron.com.

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