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Legal Issues Panel Discussion


  • Patent Cooperation Treaty
  • Does not actually grant patents
  • Clearing house for international patent applications
  • Chapter I - search
  • Chapter II - opinion
  • National/Regional filing

Regional Offices

  • Grant patents for a number of national jurisdictions
  • Generally involve a central office and not a single national office
  • Courts of the national jurisdictions have ultimate jurisdiction in deciding patentability

National Offices

  • Grant patents in single jurisdiction
  • Granted patents are based on national laws of patentable subject matter
  • Jurisdiction within Regional Offices may follow the Regional Office decisions on patentable subject matter

United States

  • Anything under the sun made by man is patentable - In re: Charkrabarty, 447 US 303 (1980)
  • Supreme Court decision holding that genetically engineered organisms are patentable
  • Both utility patents and plant patents are obtainable

U.S. Patentable Subject Matter

  • Genetically engineered higher animals and plants e.g. the “oncomouse”
  • Potentially partially sequenced biomolecules such as ESTs


  • Biotechnology generally patentable
  • Genes, proteins etc. are patentable
  • EPO directive on Biotechnological Inventions

EPO Directive

Article 4 - Non-patentable

  • plant and animal varieties
  • essentially biological processes for the production of plant and animals

Article 5 - Non-patentable

  • the human body
  • simple discovery of one of life elements including genes and partial sequences of genes

Article 6 - Non-patentable

  • Inventions contrary to public order and morality
  • Such inventions include:
  • processes for cloning human beings
  • processes for modifying the germ line genetic identity of human beings
  • uses of human embryos for commercial purposes
  • processes modifying the genetic identity of animals which are likely to cause suffering without any substantial medical benefit to man or animal
  • animals resulting from such processes

Eurasian Patent Office

  • Biotechnology generally patentable
  • Microorganisms are patentable
  • Animal and plant varieties are not patentable
  • Inventions contrary to public order and morality are not patentable


  • Biotechnology generally patentable
  • Microorganisms patentable
  • Plants and animals are patentable
  • Inventions contravening public order, morality or public health are non-patentable


  • In the United States and Japan the patentability of biotechnology is given wide interpretation
  • In the EPO the limitations of patentability are still being defined
  • In the Eurasian Patent Office animals and plants are generally not patentable

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Boston University. Video adapted from the Issues for the Millennium Workshop

Legal Issues Panel Discussion

Introduction: Jensine Andresen and Robert Neville
John Westling - Introduction: Do we have dominion over ourselves?
Overcoming Preconception Relating to Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Implications of Animal Cloning Experiments for the Potential Cloning of Human Beings
Production of Embryonic Stem Cells from Differentiated Somatic Cells
Application of Cloning to the Production of Biopharmaceuticals to Treat Human and Animal Disease
Xenotransplantation and its Associated Safety and Ethical Issues
Excluding Life from Patenting: Arguments against the Patenting of Genes
Science Panel Discussion
Ethical Challenges in a Post Genome Era
Human Rights and the New Genetics
Human Rights and Cloning
Democratizing Decision Making Relating to Biotechnology
Genetics, the Market, and Policy
Much Ado About Mutton: An Ethical Review of the Cloning Controversy
Why Worry about Human Cloning?
Modified Natural-Law Approach to Genetic Technologies
Ethics Panel Discussion
The World is Our Parish...So...?
Re-engineering Creation: Theological Reservations Concerning Genetic Technology
Possible Presbyterian Responses to Cloning
Biostewardish Updates
No, Not Yet, Maybe, and Why Not: Protestant Ambivalence Or Moral Discretion?
Beginning Reflections of One Unitarian Universalist on Cloning and Genetic Technologies
A Catholic Perspective on Cloning and Stem Cell Research
Created in Whose Image and Likeness? An Orthodox Christian Approach to Human Cloning
Thomas Shannon - "Playing God"
But Who Speaks for Me? The Need for the Religous Voice in Bioethics
In God's Garden: Creation and Cloning in Jewish Thought
A Jewish Perspective on Cloning and Other Techniques to Overcome Infertility
Islamic Perspectives on Cloning and Genetic Enginerring
A Hindu View based on Dharma, Karma and Yoga of Human Cloning and Genetic Technologies
The Bioethics of Interdependence: Shin Buddhist Attitudes on Human Cloning
Moral Imagination
Interreligious Panel Discussion
Science and the Courts
Beyond Biology: Regulating Ownership in a Knowledge-based Economy
Biotechnology and International Trade
Disharmonization in Agricultural Biotechnology
Historical Notes Relating to the Patenting of Biological Inventions
Should Morality be Within the Purview of Patent Law?
The International Treatment of Biotechnological Intellectual Property (BIP)
Science, Politics and Ethics of Cloning and Genetic Engineering: Who will Decide the Future of Humankind?
Cloning and Beyond: Making Laws for Making Babies
Issues For the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies - Index


Boston University

See also:

Pain and Suffering
Books on Biology, Genetics and Theology
Dolly the Cloned Sheep
Egg Manipulation
DNA Double-Helix