Big pharma is once again fighting with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) over controversial changes to patent regulations that the USPTO tried to institute last year. The new rules would limit the number of times a patent could be reevaluated to two, and limited the number of claims that could be filed on a patent to 25. University tech transfer offices and biotech companies have argued that those changes will make it difficult and expensive to defend patents in the life sciences -- new claims are routinely added to patents over time, as the scope of discoveries expands or becomes clear with further research. The changes were scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2007, but GlaxoSmithKline filed a last-minute lawsuit contending that the agency did not have the authority to institute them. A Virginia court ruled in favor of the company in April, but the USPTO appealed....

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