News & CommentPolymerase Chain Reaction

Promega Wins Round in Fight Over Taq

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Science  23 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5278, pp. 1039
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5278.1039a


Berkeley, California—A high-stakes battle over patent rights to Taq polymerase—the enzyme used in molecular biology labs around the world for the popular technique known as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)—took a new turn in a San Francisco courtroom last week. A judge handed down a pretrial ruling that appears to strengthen the hand of Promega, a Madison, Wisconsin, biotech company that is trying to invalidate a patent on Taq held by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Hoffmann-La Roche. The judge concluded that Cetus Corp., from which Roche bought the PCR patents in 1991, did not adequately specify the purity of the enzyme in its patent application and withheld information from the U.S. patent office. Both findings could strengthen Promega's argument that earlier publications anticipated Cetus's 1990 patent.