The Court of Justice of the European Union’s decision in the Brüstle case has worrying implications for some stem cell patents. Andy Sanderson looks at the landscape across Europe.
Embryonic tissue is currently the only source of totipotent stem cells (stem cells capable of differentiating into any other cell type of the body).
Hence, the finding in Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decision C-34/10 (commonly referred to as the Brüstle decision) that inventions are excluded from patentability in the EU if their technical teaching: “...requires the prior destruction of human embryos or their use as base material, whatever the stage at which that takes place and even if the description of the technical teaching claimed does not refer to the use of human embryos” has worrying implications for human embryonic stem cell (hESC) patents.
Decision of the German courts
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Brüstle, stem cell patents, CJEU, German Federal Court of Justice