By Steve Usdin
Contributing Editor

WASHINGTON - Despite a flurry of publicity last week surrounding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's decision to revoke broad claims granted to Agracetus for all genetically modified forms of cotton, the patents will remain valid and enforceable during an appeals process that could last two years.

Patent office officials also moved to characterize the decision to rescind the claims as one based on the discovery of prior disclosure of the invention, rather than an acquiescence to challenges of the patent based on the breadth of the claims.

In the action disclosed last week, a patent examiner threw out all of the claims based on a request for re-examination of the patents filed by the USDA and an unidentified third party.

Previously upheld

The process patent, No. 5,004,863 and the product patent, No. 5,159,135, were upheld in a prior re-examination in 1992.