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BILL CALLS FOR LICENSING OF LOW-EMISSION GAS PATENTS In response to rising gasoline prices and a March 29 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upholding Union Oil Co. of California’s patent for a technology that reduces automotive emissions, U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, has introduced a bill calling for the mandatory licensing of patents on reformulated gasoline. This would bar the holder of a patent for low-emission gasoline from withholding a license from any competitor. The measure, H.R. 4739, has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Health and Environment. The bill was introduced in June in the wake of the dismissal of a motion brought by a number of oil refiners challenging the validity of Unocal’s ’393 patent on the grounds of Union Oil’s alleged inequitable conduct before the Patent Office. Union Oil v. Atlantic Richfield Co, 208 F.3d 989 (2000). Unocal maintains that the patent is not a factor in increased fuel costs. In a June 19 statement to a congressional hearing on gas prices, J. William Ichord, a Unocal vice president said, “Unocal has neither initiated nor threatened any legal action on its patents for cleaner-burning gasoline … Although we are currently in preliminary discussions with potential licensees, a number of important players in the marketplace still have not talked to us.” WHO FIRST VACCINATED THE CHICKEN IN THE EGG? In a patent case involving a through-the-shell method of vaccinating chickens against disease, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that a company that conducted testing of a competing technology infringed on the ’630 patent developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and licensed to Embrex Inc., of Durham, N.C. Embrex v. Service Engineering, No. 99-1064. The appeals court vacated a trial court award of $500,000, and instead limited damages to “a reasonable royalty,” to be determined by the district court in North Carolina. HOSPITAL, COMPANY FIGHT OVER CREDIT FOR TUMOR DRUG Children’s hospital in Boston claims in a suit that a pharmaceutical company is trying to steal credit for a tumor-starving drug by scheming to make it appear that the hospital had pilfered the drug. The lawsuit, filed on July 18, is the latest development in a battle for the rights to a small section of an angiostatin protein known as Kringle-5, which has shown promising results in clinical trials. The hospital is charging that Abbott Laboratories, of North Chicago, Ill., engaged in a conspiracy to seize rights to the drug, first by filing a false patent, then by suing the hospital and sullying the reputation of its researchers. Abbott sued Children’s, claiming that the hospital’s renowned cancer researcher, Dr. Judah Folkman, fraudulently told U.S. patent reviewers that he discovered the tumor-inhibiting properties in Kringle-5 and later tried to profit from it. CARIBBEAN NATION ADDRESSES MODERN-DAY PIRACY The Dominican Republic’s president-elect, Hipolito Mejia, who is to take office on Aug. 16, has announced that he will crack down on software piracy and the counterfeiting of trademarked goods. Chief concerns have been counterfeit cigars and fashion merchandise such as the Tommy Hilfiger brand of sportswear. Under a new trademark law, a counterfeiter risks losing the merchandise, serving two years in prison and paying a $6,000 fine, 30 times the average monthly salary in that nation and 1,000 times the previous maximum. The law would eliminate a requirement that foreign firms post a costly bond before filing a suit. Also, a copyright measure has been passed by the country’s Senate and is being debated in the House of Deputies.

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