WASHINGTON - The House adjourned Saturday without taking action on a biotechnology patent bill, ensuring that the Congress will not pass the legislation this year.

The proposed process patent law would overrule the application of a Federal Circuit Court decision, made in the "Durden" case, to biological process patents. In Durden, the court had ruled that when a chemical process, such as genetic engineering, is already "known," it cannot be patented.

This has frustrated biotechnology companies seeking patent protection for genetic engineering of materials when the materials produced cannot themselves be patented because they are already found in nature. The proposed law would extend patent protection to cover the process for preparing and using a biotechnology product.

'Gained momentum'

Lisa Raines