International Dog-Fight over cloning rights between BioArts International & RNL Bio

Written by Businesswire India | Mill Valley, June 19: | Updated: Jun 19 2008, 21:09pm hrs
The CEOs of two American companies in the cloning field, BioArts International and Start Licensing, on Thursday independently announced their opposition to the unlicensed activity of a third company based in South Korea: RNL Bio.

RNL Bio recently announced the cloning of dogs intended for detecting cancer, offering to sell them for USD 500,000 apiece, after previously announcing a plan to clone pet dogs. However, animal cloning technology - including that used by RNL - is patented throughout most of the developed world, including South Korea, and these patents are controlled by Start Licensing. BioArts has the sole, worldwide license from Start to clone dogs.

"RNL has no right to offer this service, and is practicing black market cloning," said Lou Hawthorne, CEO of BioArts. "Good international relations in the 21st Century depend on respect for intellectual property. By claiming the right to exploit technology that they did not invent and do not own, RNL demonstrates arrogance on an international scale. If RNL does not respect Western patents, does this mean that Western companies are free to disregard patents granted to Korean companies"

"Start will consider all available legal remedies to protect and preserve its patent rights," said Jonathan Thatcher, President of Start Licensing, "including the remedy of blocking importation of products produced under the patented methods into jurisdictions where such remedies are available."

"Individuals who wish to clone a beloved dog have only one legal option," said Hawthorne, "and that's our Best Friends Again program, described at www.bestfriendsagain.com. Organizations that wish to clone dogs for other purposes, including medical applications, should contact BioArts."

The role of Seoul National University (SNU) in this developing situation is unclear. JoongAng Daily, a South Korean newspaper, quoted SNU officials on May 20th as saying they were canceling plans to form a commercial dog cloning entity due to concerns over Start Licensing's patents; however, ongoing dog cloning activities of RNL are allegedly enabled by University facilities and staff - several of whom are major shareholders in RNL.

BioArts International partnered with Sooam Biotech Research Foundation of South Korea following Sooam's successful cloning in 2007 of Hawthorne's family dog, Missy - fulfilling the world's first commercial dog cloning order. BioArts recently announced plans to sell 5 dog cloning slots in an auction to be held July 5th-9th. Details can be found at www.bestfriendsagain.com. More information on BioArts is available at http://www.bioarts.com.

Lou Hawthorne is available for interviews. Please contact Michele Kelly/Ed Fogelman at (415-388-8009) or ed@kfgroup.net.