Remember When? AETA Past Meeting History

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Published on: October 11, 2019

Fast Facts:

  • At the organizational meeting of the AETA, 29 August, 1981, in Denver :
    • First order of business was an agreement to thoroughly study the problem of existing ET patents and pending litigation against ET practitioners
  • 1981 AETA Annual Dues = $1.00 per embryo handled ($250 minimum and $5,000 maximum)
  • The first Board met the first time for one day in Sept. 1982 at the O’Hare Hilton
  • In addition, the AETA asked for and received donations for a legal fund

1983 – First Convention 

  • Location: Ft. Collins, Colorado
    • Hotel cost was $33/night
  • Dates: January 18-19, 1983 – following the IETS conference
  • There were 51 attendees
  • The program included:
    • Established 4 standing committees
    • Panel presentation on problems with export of embryos
    • Augspurger patent lawsuit review
  • Did you know? Bob Garey, Executive Vice President of the AETA was hit over the head in his motel room by an intruder who entered at night through a sliding door
1983 Proceedings Cover
1983 Presentation
AETA Board of Directors, 1982-1983
(at Select Embryos, Ohio, 1983)

Major historical challenges to the AETA and the ET industry in the US

  • Augspurger patent lawsuit – 1982
  • Monoject syringe toxicity – 1985
  • DT/EG patent challenge – 1998-1999
  • Embezzlement of AETA funds – 2003
  • 1986 tax law revision – eliminating any investment tax credit loopholes, including investments in cattle

Mr. Duell’s Mistakes 

  • More than 8 million additional US patents have been granted since his statement in 1899 (~600,000 at that time)
  • The US patent office is so swamped that patents are granted with inadequate background research on prior art. (~570,00 patent applications in 2013)
  • Once granted, it is often very expensive and time consuming to invalidate a patent.

Reproduction processes for cellular bodies
US patent no. 3,854,470,  (Filed Nov. 1973;  issued Dec. 17,1974)
(L.L. Augspurger, a Michigan attorney at law)

100 separate claims, including:

  • Coverage of ‘omnivorous and herbivorous hoofed animals’
  • Superovulation
  • Embryo recovery and transfer
  • Culture media
  • Embryo cryopreservation
  • In vitro production
  • Embryo and semen sex selection
  • Donors fed a ‘high energy ration’
  • Cloning
  • 100s of misspellings, many conceptual errors and some processes not yet proven or feasible.
  • Demand for $300 per pregnancy

Patent Infringement suits filed in Federal Court in Chicago in Feb. 1981
Injunctions to cease ET work were issued against the following:

  • Robert Miller (IL)
  • American Embryos (MI) (Cliff Murphy was employed there at the time)
  • MOM (Russell Mauer – MI)
    • All three businesses were unable to practice ET for more than a year and incurred very large legal expenses
    • Discovery occurred from 2/81 to 11/82. Depositions were taken in CA, CO, Texas and IL.
    • Trial in Dec. 82 at which Richard Seed testified for the plaintiff.
    • During the trial it became apparent that the patent had little merit.

Additional history of Augspurger patent trial

  • During the trial, a ‘friend’ (anonymous donor) of the AETA donated $10,000 to purchase the patent and two related patents from Augspurger and then donate them to the public. This offer was accepted by Augspurger.
  • AETA members donated many $10s of 1000s to support the defense.
  • Our industry is highly indebted to the three ET companies above, to George E. Seidel, Jr. for reviewing the patents and collecting prior art and to the anonymous donor.

Cryopreservation Process for Direct Transfer of Embryos
US patent no. 5,160.312,  (Filed Feb. 6, 1991;  issued Nov. 3, 1992)
(Inventor:  Steve Voelkel)

21 separate claims, including:

  • Collecting ‘embryos’, species not specified
  • Use of ethylene glycol as a cryoprotectant
  • Embryo stages can range from morulae to hatched blastocysts
  • Embryos can be produced by AI/ET, IVF, cloning, DNA modified, splitting
  • Controlled cooling rate ranging from 0.1 to 1.0°C/min
  • Direct transfer of thawed embryos to recipients
  • Patent was based on work by Voelkel at Granada Genetics, patent was purchased by Infigen, Inc., a company owned by ABS Global, Inc, a co. owned by W. R. Grace & Co.

Additional history of Voelkel DT/EG patent problem

  • In October, 1998, a number of ET firms, including Em Tran, Inc., were served notice that use of EG for freezing embryos was in violation of the patent owned by Infigen.
  • A payment of $2 per embryo was requested for every embryo frozen from 3 Nov. 1992 to the date that a licensing agreement was signed. Infigen’s attorney clearly stated that “failure” to sign an agreement would ultimately lead to a “significant” increase in future license fees.
  • The AETA helped financially support a legal challenge to the patent.
  • Principle of Laches; PhD thesis in Japan
Mouse morulae (left) prior to exposure to media from toxic syringes. Mouse morulae (right) cultured for 48hr following 3hr exposure to media held in toxic syringes for 3hr.

Large in-house ET firms no longer in business

  • Codding Embryological Services – OK
  • Carnation Genetics – CA
  • Rio Vista Genetics – TX
  • Granada Genetics – TX
  • American Embryos – MI
  • Select Embryos – OH
  • Em Tran, Inc. – PA

Em Tran, Inc. and Em Tran-West, Inc. – Personnel

Partners:

  • John F. Hasler, PhD – (employed in ET supply business) – AETA board
  • Alan D McCauley, DVM – (established his own large dairy) – AETA  board
  • Boyd Henderson, VMD – (own equine practice)
  • Jimmy Webb, DVM – (own ET practice) –  AETA president

Veterinarians

  • Greg Brooke
  • Jack Tate
  • Allen Rushmer (own ET practice) – AETA board (2X)
  • Larry Kennel (own ET practice) – AETA president
  • Richard Whitaker (own ET practice) –  AETA president
  • Walter Logan
  • Anne Bea Kulp  (own ET practice)
  • Chris Blauser
  • Kenneth Halbach  (commercial ET business)

Embryologists

  • Patricia Dunn → DVM
  • Susan Hallowell → human ART
  • Brian Halteman → DVM
  • Charles Looney, PhD → (own ET practice)
  • Techan Takeda, PhD → DVM
  • Valerie Robb Lee → human clinical lab
  • Jeff Miller → DVM
  • JoAnne Stokes → equine ICSI and ET at CSU
  • Beth Grove → USDA-APHIS
  • Steven Stamm → certified heart-lung pump technician
  • Jane Upperman  → dairy sanitation inspector
  • Shirley Trimmer
  • Lisa Standing → human ART
  • David Rice
  • Susan Ferenze
  • Peggy Castelo
  • Beth Brockley Neely → human clinical lab
  • Roger Coup
  • Patti Herten  → Hoard’s Dairyman staff
  • Zhganqun Jin → human ART
  • Melanie Houser → human ART
  • Kim Stockton
  • Emily Cardey → human ART
  • Shan Wilkinson → human ART
  • Kris Dray
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