With the Supreme Court about to weigh in on the controversial subject of gene patents, it bears noting that humans are not the only ones whose genes are patented. A company called Prolume, located in Pinetop, Arizona, apparently owns a couple of gene patents claiming the DNA encoding green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) and luciferases from a variety of sea creatures of the genera Renilla, Gaussia and Pleuromamma (6,232,107 and 7,109,315).
Recently, Prolume filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of California against a multiple companies, including Gentarget, alleging infringement of the patents. Prolume appears to have targeted these companies based on the description of products provided on the company websites. For example, the complaint states that "a search of the word ‘gaussia’ at www.gentarget.com reveals 14 products that incorporate Gaussia Luciferase.”
The complaint notes that Prolume cannot determine from the Gentarget website which claims are being infringed without an analysis of the DNA sequence used in their products. However, Prolume infers infringement based upon the frequency of light that excites the protein, and that is emitted, as described in the company's product literature. Presumably Prolume will seek discovery to ascertain the DNA sequences used by the defendants in the production of their products.