A Medical Device Daily

Artecel (Sunnyvale, California) reported that the patent inventorship litigation concerning the foundational, composition-of-matter patent (U.S. patent No. 6,777,231) covering stem cells isolated from adipose (fat) tissue has been decided in favor of Artecel's licensor, the University of Pittsburgh, and against Cytori Therapeutics' (San Diego) licensor, the University of California (UC; Berkeley).

Artecel said such stem cells are one of the most promising kinds of adult stem cells, easily obtained from patients and able to develop into many different tissue types. The court determined that only the two scientists at Pittsburgh, Adam Katz, MD, and Ramon Llull, MD, were inventors, and that Marc Hedrick, MD, and other UC scientists were not inventors.

As a result of this decision, Aretecel said UC and Cytori have lost their rights to the patent covering adipose-derived stem cells. Any commercial activities involving these stem cells in the U.S. either under existing business agreements or under other patents relating to the uses or applications of these stem cells will likely be affected by this decision, the company said.

The '231 patent covers isolated adipose-derived stem cells and Cytori said the ruling does not affect commercialization of the Celution System or the company's product pipeline. However, Cytori said it believes the court's decision is incorrect and that the University of California may elect to appeal the ruling.

Cytori was recently granted a foundational patent on its Celution System device technology for processing a mixture of adult stem and regenerative cells from adipose tissue (Medical Device Daily, June 12, 2008).

The court's decision caps a litigation that has lasted more than three years, involving extensive discovery and a lengthy trial, and follows two important interim court rulings in February and August 2007, both decided in favor of Artecel's licensor and against Cytori's licensor.

Artecel said it believes the court's decision was correct, thoroughly considered, and based upon an extensive supporting record of both fact and law.

The case was heard in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and was entitled University of Pittsburgh of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education v. Marc Hedrick, et al. The litigation was to determine who the inventors were in regard to stem cells isolated from adipose tissue: Drs. Katz and Llull, the University of Pittsburgh scientists, or Dr. Hedrick and the UC scientists, or both groups.

"We are extremely pleased that the court has ruled comprehensively in favor of the Pittsburgh inventors' position," said Linda Powers, who chairs Artecel's board. "The work by Drs. Katz and Llull opened up the important category of adipose-derived adult stem cells, and they deserve to receive proper inventorship recognition."

She added, "We are happy to have the inventorship issue clearly resolved so that confusing business reports and public announcements by other parties can cease, and the development of useful medical treatments from these cells can proceed more smoothly from here."