Calgene Inc., Zeneca A.V.P. and Campbell Soup Co. announcedTuesday that they have agreed to share rights to thetechnology necessary to produce genetically engineeredtomatoes and tomato products.

As part of the agreement, Calgene and Zeneca plan to settle anoutstanding patent interference regarding the use of thepolygalacturonase (PG) gene in commercializing tomatoes andrelated products. All three companies have cross-licensedappropriate PG gene-enabling technology.

Calgene of Davis, Calif., will use the technology for its Flavr Savrtomato, which contains the antisense PG gene. Zeneca andCampbell have co-exclusive worldwide rights to market tomatoproducts based on the technology.

Calgene first licensed North American rights to the use of thePG gene in fresh tomatoes from Campbell in 1991, companyspokeswoman Carolyn Hayworth explained. With theagreement, the company now has worldwide rights to thecommercialization of fresh tomatoes using the PG gene.

The patent interference between Calgene and Zeneca regardingthe use of the PG gene, which was granted in 1992, will still beconsidered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Hayworthsaid. However, the patent office's final decision will not affectthe cross-licensing agreements already reached by thecompanies. -- Karl Thiel

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