Biotech Company Wins Cloning Legal Case
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By PAUL ELIAS, AP Biotechnology Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - Advanced Cell Technology said Friday it won an important legal battle to control animal cloning for profit in the United States, but more hurdles may be ahead.


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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week dismissed a legal challenge to three Advanced Cell patents by competitor Infigen Inc. of DeForest, Wis. The patent office ruled that Infigen waited too long to file its claim.


Efforts to get a comment Friday from Infigen were not immediately successful.


Advanced Cell's legal battles are not over, however. The company faces another legal challenge from Menlo Park-based Geron Corp., which owns the technology that cloned Dolly the Sheep. Geron contends that since Dolly was the first animal cloned, it owns exclusive rights to commercialize the technology. Geron's case against Advanced Cell is pending before the patent office.


All three companies say a combination of cloning and genetic engineering of desirable traits will enable the meat and dairy industries to create beef and milk more efficiently.


There's also a push to genetically engineer and clone animals to produce human replacement organs and drugs.


What's more, at least one biotechnology company - Genetic Savings and Clone - is attempting to clone pets for profit. It pays Advanced Cell and Geron for rights to their respective technologies.


The legal owners of the cloning patents expect to reap millions of dollars by licensing the technology to food-producing companies.



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