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Janet Hasak lives and works in Paradise. As associate general counsel for patent law at Genentech Inc., Hasak works from home in the Sierra foothills town of Paradise, Calif., 180 miles from the company’s high-tech campus in South San Francisco. Typically Hasak works on about 15 different patents at a time, and she does so in her blue jeans, sipping the Starbucks latte that she buys whenever she drops off documents at her local Federal Express office. She stays in touch with patent office examiners and Genentech scientists via phone and e-mail. At the moment, Hasak is working on patents for lytic drugs, which fight cancer. But the most valuable patents she’s prosecuted in her 15 years at Genentech were for recombinant, or lab-created, Factor VIII, a protein that promotes blood coagulation and is used by hemophiliacs. Genentech licensed the protein to Bayer AG. In 2002 Bayer earned revenues of $424 million from sales of the product. Originally, Genentech was part of a three-way interference proceeding over Factor VIII patents. The other two parties to this battle, which began in 1990, were Chiron Corp. and Genetics Institute Inc. The interference proceedings ended in Genentech’s favor in 1995, and the key patents for recombinant Factor VIII were issued two years later. Hasak is no stranger to blockbuster patents. She joined Genentech in 1988 from Cetus Corp., a biotech company in Emeryville, Calif., that was later swallowed up by Chiron, its across-the-street neighbor. In the five years she was at Chiron, Hasak worked on patents for polymerase chain reaction technology. PCR technology is one of the key inventions of the 20th century, allowing the accurate duplication of a strand of DNA. This technology has made possible DNA identification of criminal suspects and has given biotech and pharmaceutical companies the ability to grow vast amounts of identical biological compounds. In 1991 Hoffman-La Roche Inc., bought the PCR patent portfolio from Cetus for $300 million. Hasak shared billing with Albert Halluin, her supervisor at the time. Getting recognition for the PCR patents is important to Hasak. She says that she did much of the back-and-forth work between the patent office and Cetus scientist Kary Mullis, who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work. “We had a very primitive e-mail system, and Kary and I would go back and forth on the claims. He was absolutely brilliant,” she says. Halluin, who is now a partner at Howrey Simon Arnold & White, says Hasak “is a terrific patent attorney who writes extremely well.” The two lawyers met in 1981 at Exxon Research and Engineering Co. in New Jersey while Hasak was going to night law school at Seton Hall University. Halluin left in 1983 to join Cetus. Hasak, who says she was inspired by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1980 decision in Diamond v. Chakrabarty, which made biotech inventions patentable, threw herself into the biotech field. After receiving her law degree, she moved west and joined Halluin at Cetus. Biotech may have been new to Hasak, but science was not. She majored in chemistry at Hartford College and later earned a master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Rochester. Hasak, however, decided against a career as a bench scientist and took a job as a patent agent at National Starch and Chemical Corp. in Bridgewater, N.J. She prosecuted patents for chemical products used for everything from newspaper ink to shampoo to gelatin desserts. Hasak enjoys working with scientists, except when inventorship disputes arise. Hasak says she finds “dealing with [certain] personalities to be troubling.” Genentech solved part of the problem by listing inventors on the patent application in alphabetical order. She wryly notes that “one of the scientists went back to her maiden name so she could be listed first.” One of Genentech’s products is the breast cancer drug Herceptin. Beset by breast cancer herself, Hasak is proud that her company is on the front lines in the fight against the disease. “I know we’re helping other women like me,” she says.

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