VLI, the Irvine-based personal products manufacturer, said it has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reconsider its denial of a critical patent for the company's Today brand contraceptive sponge.
VLI lost the patent after it failed to make a $150 maintenance payment in July. In September, the patent office refused VLI's initial request for reinstatement of the patent.
The patent protects design features of the company's primary product, and an $86-million takeover of VLI by American Home Products is contingent on VLI obtaining that protection once again.
In its first request for reinstatement, VLI said it was not notified of recent changes in federal patent laws requiring the maintenance payments. But the patent office told VLI that the petition lacked detail in several areas, according to VLI Chairman Robert A. Elliott.
In the latest request, said Tom Berryman, VLI'S chief financial officer, "we've provided them with far more substantial information." According to Berryman, the patent office could rule on the latest request in the next two weeks.