A patent battle has ended with a US court giving chemicals giant DuPont the commercial rights for a patented gene that could one day lead to healthier vegetable oils for food preparation, according to reports in the US press.
The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the patent claim of researcher John J. Okuley, who helped identify the FAD2 gene in 1992, and challenged DuPont's claim to the patent for it.
According to the report in the Sacramento Bee, Okuley, a molecular biologist, was working for Washington State University in 1992 but was using a borrowed laboratory at Ohio State university in Columbus when he and another Washington State scientist identified what was called the FAD2 gene.
Rules at the time meant that Washington State's faculty manual required that employees assign to the university any intellectual property arising out of their employment by the school. Washington State also had a collaboration agreement with DuPont that gave the company the rights to research discoveries made during the collaboration.
The gene helps increase the ratio between beneficial fatty acids and harmful saturated fats. Science of the future could see researchers putting the gene into seeds for growing crops like soybeans to produce healthier vegetable oils for cooking food.