Building the $100 Thermocycler

David L. Haviland dhavilan at
Wed Feb 2 13:27:46 EST 2000

"A.F. Simpson" wrote:
> Richard P. Grant wrote:
> >
> > In article <38987C9A.32E0 at>, "A.F. Simpson" <AFS7 at>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > You might want to be careful.  As I understand it, the overturned patent
> > > concerned Taq polymerase only.  The PCR process itself (and hence
> > > machines to perform it) is still covered by various other patents.
> >
> > But there's nothing stopping you making a thermocycler anyway.  You
> > don't *have* to use it for PCR. . .
> However, I think at the very least a name change from 'OpenPCR' would be
> called for :-)  And you would have to _tell_ people that they can't use
> it for PCR, thus removing the point of the exercise.  If the goal is to
> produce very cheap cyclers for schools, etc, it would be terribly unkind
> to let them violate the PCR patents without making it very clear to them
> that is what using the machine for PCR would mean.  I doubt many schools
> wouild want to take legal risks like that.

Yes... but...

If it is being done for education or even the low/no budget lab, why
would they (Roche) even care?  I figure they'd want to be the supplier
of the Taq used in the home-grown instrument!

I can't see what would be gained if Roche, hypothetically of course,
were to legally go after a high school or "college of timbucktu" for
making a manual or semi-manual cycler?  Doing so would be bad public
relations and make the Goliath (Roche) out to be more of a spoiled-sport

Oh well...
David L. Haviland, Ph.D., Asst. Prof. Immunology 
University of Texas - Houston, H.S.C.
Institute of Molecular Medicine, R907
2121 W. Holcombe Blvd.,  Houston, TX  77030 
If everything seems to be going so well, you have obviously 
overlooked something.

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