Patent claiming Transcription Factors
Patent claiming Transcription Factors from Arabidopsis thaliana
The following is an example of one of the granted patents for transcription factors from Mendel Biotechnology Inc. As previously noted, the patent is part of a much larger family of documents containing applications claiming many Arabidopsis sequences, many of which are still pending in many countries:
|Patent or Publication No.||Title, Independent Claims and Summary||Applicant|
||Title – Transgenic plants comprising polynucleotides encoding transcription factors that confer disease tolerance
Mendel Biotechnology, Inc., Hayward, CA., USA
|Remarks||SEQ ID NO 18 is a transcriptional activator (AtERF-1; ethylene responsive element binding factor 1). Note that the claims issued in this patent are far narrower than those of the patent application originally filed, which was discussed above. The narrowing of claims probably reflects the existence of sequences that had already been disclosed which would have been infringing the overly broad claims of the patent application. Note, however, that claims to all the other sequences originally claimed could still be pending.
The scope of this claim is limited to comprising language around the peptide sequence disclosed in SEQ ID NO 18. It may be possible to achieve the same or similar phenotye modifications that expression of AtERF-1 would cause in plants by the use of a homologous sequence from elsewhere in the same genome or from another species. However, it is not truly clear how much there is freedom to operate. How far does the doctrine of equivalents provide protection in this case? Would an AtERF-1 homologue less than 90% identical at the amino acid level be a work around in this case? Also, is “tolerance” the same as disease resistance?
Note also that fungal disease is specifically mentioned in the claims of the issued patent. However, this does NOT imply that the applicants could not obtain claims over bacterial or viral diseases or any of the other phenotypes mentioned in the applications still pending.