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First ever legal challenge filed against the patenting of an animal

WASHINGTON -- A patent on live beagle dogs was challenged in a legal action filed today by two non-profit organizations seeking to rescind the patent. The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) and the PatentWatch Project filed the legal challenge with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In the challenge, the groups urged the Patent Office to cancel Patent # 6,444,872, which covers live beagle dogs and the several methods used to induce a fatal lung infection in them.

"The granting of this patent on dogs, and of hundreds of other patents on animals, shows that the Patent Office is in legal and ethical freefall," says Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) which oversees the PatentWatch Project. "Animals like these beagles are sentient, living beings not patentable machines or products of some institution or corporation. This legal challenge, and the poll numbers showing widespread public opposition to animal patenting, should send a strong message to the Administration and the Patent Office that this patent is neither legally valid nor morally acceptable."

The dogs claimed in the patent are intended for use in experiments. The patent being challenged was issued to the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System in Austin, Texas, and, like many other patents on animals, now appears to be exclusively licensed to a private company.

"We have requested that the Patent and Trademark Office cancel the claims of this beagle patent because neither beagles nor other higher animals fit into any of the statutory categories of patentable subject matter," said PatentWatch Director Peter DiMauro.

Recent changes in U.S. patent law now allow any person to request a reexamination of certain issued patents and participate in the proceedings as they progress through the patent system. Since the Patent and Trademark Office first issued a patent on an animal in 1987, it has accepted
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Contact: Crystal Miller-Spiegel
cspiegel@aavs.org
215-887-0816
American Anti-Vivisection Society
25-Feb-2004


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