From the LA Times:
"A Santa Monica-based taxpayer rights group launched a formal challenge Tuesday to three patents that it contends have had a chilling effect on embryonic stem cell research.
The move came on the day the U.S. Senate approved a bill that would expand federal funding for such research, sending it to President Bush, who has promised a veto.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which has been monitoring California's voter-approved $3-billion stem cell research institute, initiated the challenge with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The group is the first to contest three sweeping patents held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation that give the foundation control over much research.
The patents stem from University of Wisconsin researcher James Thomson's successful isolation of human embryonic stem cells. Researchers have characterized them as so restrictive that they basically lay claim to any work with embryonic stem cell lines, even those derived independently. "