The following is excerpted from a March 11, 2011 Star Scientific press release as a follow-up to my prior posts on March 10, 2009, August 26, 2008, August 8, 2008, December 28, 2007, September 4, 2007, January 19, 2007, January 4, 2007, December 15, 2006, and September 15, 2006:
Star Scientific, Inc. (Nasdaq: CIGX) announced that its patent counsel, Banner & Witcoff, has received two notices and letters from the United States Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) confirming the validity of each of the claims involved in the reexamination of the '649 and '401 patents. RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, Inc. (RJR) filed requests for reexamination of these patents with the PTO in January, 2009. The notices confirmed patentability of all claims involved in the reexaminations, rejecting each of the prior art challenges raised by the requester. The USPTO made other specific findings, including a determination that the claims are entitled to the earlier filing date of its provisional patent applications. The issuance of these decisions terminates the reexamination process, and since the requests were filed on an "ex parte" basis, they cannot be appealed by RJR.
The '649 and '401 patents, which issued in 2001 and 2002, cover the tobacco-leaf curing process in a manner that largely prevents bacterial activity in the tobacco leaf. That activity results in the formation of tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), a group of carcinogens that have been identified for decades by researchers worldwide as one of the most lethal and abundant toxins in tobacco leaf and smoke. The StarCured(R) process, as described in the 649 and 401 patents, results in tobacco leaf with TSNA levels that Star believes are the lowest found anywhere in the world. The company more recently filed a patent application, in December 2008, for a further innovated curing process that results in TSNA levels in the tobacco leaf are below levels of detection by conventional standards of measure.
Jonnie R. Williams, the inventor of the StarCured(R) process and Star's CEO, stated, "The notices from the Patent & Trademark Office are enormously gratifying to all of us at Star Scientific. We have believed from the beginning in what the StarCured(R) process achieves, and in its potential to significantly reduce tobacco users' exposure to tobacco toxins. "
These patents are at the center of patent infringement lawsuits filed by Star Scientific against RJR in 2001 and 2002. The company currently awaits a ruling from the United States Court of Appeals on its appeal of the June, 2009 jury verdict in favor of RJR. Oral argument on the appeal was heard by a three-judge panel of that Court on January 11. 2011. The appeal requests that the jury verdict be reversed, the case remanded to US District Court for a new trial, and that it be reassigned to a new judge.
Read the full press release here. Thanks to the reader who alerted me to this release.