ABI373 and third party software

Howard Cash cash at geneva.csmil.umich.edu
Wed Jan 12 18:33:05 EST 1994

Recently there has been discussion on the net about the claim that the
Applied Biosystems Division of Perkin Elmer [ABI] would be encrypting or
otherwise restricting access to the chromatogram files from the popular
373A sequencer.  To recapp, some had reported that  a) a "compressed or 
scrambled" revision to the file format was imminent,  b) that commercial 
companies that produced software accessing ABI data files without 
licensing access tools from ABI would face legal action, or both.

There are several programs that display the 373A's chromatogram files
as a useful tool for evaluating data validity.  Among them are Generation 
from IntelliGenetics, Inc. (employer of our own Dave Kristofferson), 
SeqMan from DNAStar and XDAP from Roger Staden and the MRC.  Have
I missed anyone?  :)

Happily, the issues seem to be resolved.  At the recent "Genome Sequencing
and Analysis V" conference at Hilton Head, there was a meeting of the
American Biotechnology  Software Manufacturers Association.  ABI was 
represented by Dawn Madden, Manager of Data Products for Applied Biosystems.  
Others at the meeting included the presidents of Gene Codes, IntelliGenetics, 
DNAStar and GCG.  On behalf of ABI, Dawn stated that  a) ABI would make no 
effort to encrypt datafiles and  b) ABI had no intention of suing companies 
or individuals who's software accesses data from the 373A sequencer.  
Furthermore, ABI will make available, free of charge, a library of software 
tools for accessing the 373A data fields.  This free library is meant for 
those writing software for use in their own laboratories and not for 
distribution, commercially or otherwise.  Commercial companies can license 
this library, but if any or all companies would rather write their own access 
tools (because of the licensing cost or in order to write more efficient and 
maintainable code), Applied Biosystems will not try to block distribution of 
those products.

Ms. Madden stated at the meeting and assured me personally that prior claims 
to the contrary did not reflect ABI's policies or intentions and that, in the 
future, this would be made clear to ABI's field sales staff.  If you hear 
conflicting reports, Dawn Madden can be contacted at ABI at 
800-545-7547 ext. 8803.

I hope this news relieves concerns that researchers using third party software 
with their valuable sequencers will face incompatibility in the near future.

Howard Cash
University of Michigan    
Gene Codes Corporation, Ann Arbor, MI
GeneCodes at AOL.com
Phone 800-497-4939
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Disclaimer.  Please Read.
I am an employee of and a stock holder in Gene Codes Corp.  Although 
bionet.software is an UNmoderated newsgroup I want to be sensitive 
to Dave's extreme concern about appropriate levels of commercial 
discussion on the internet.  This text, as well as postings that have gone 
before, have been reviewed by our systems administrators here at the 
University of Michigan for fairness and appropriateness to the net, as well 
as by other regular contributors to this discussion group.  The comments 
above are, to the best of my ability, a factual accounting of the discussions 
on a topic that has been of interest to readers of this newsgroup.  All 
attendees of the meeting were connected with or directly employed by 
commercial software manufacturers.  My views are not a reflection of any 
official position of the University of Michigan or CSMIL.  This should not
be construed as an advertisement for any products of the companies
mentioned.  Please to not reply with email to this address requesting
product or company information.
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