The Indiana Proteomics Consortium (Inproteo), formed last year by Eli Lilly, Indiana University, and Purdue University, plans to aggressively pursue users of Lilly's pioneering His-tag protein separation technology 17 years after the patent was issued. Inproteo will be seeking lump sum payments and license fees from hundreds of companies and research universities that have commercialized products or have patented their own discoveries based on the technique.

"If you use this technology to purify proteins, polypeptides, lipids, whatever, then you'll be infringing the patent," said Inproteo President John G.R. Hurrell.

Lilly's so-called Smith patent, named after researcher Michele C. Smith, was awarded in February 1986. The technology described a process for separating and purifying polypeptides and proteins by using immobilized metal ion chelating peptides containing histidine. Many commonly used protein separation techniques and reagents are derived from His-tag technology, but only a handful of companies and research universities have licensed it....

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