WASHINGTON - The Patent and Trademark Office is poised to approve patents for fragment gene sequences, according to John Doll, director of the PTO's biotechnology patent examining group.

Doll told BioCentury last week that the first patents on expressed sequence tags (ESTs) could be approved in two to three months, although it is likely that it will take somewhat longer for negotiations between the PTO and applicants to be concluded. Doll added that when an EST patent is approved, it will take several months for it to issue.