Stem Cells and Patent Law

Last month, the European Court of Justice held that procedures dependent upon human stem cells are ineligible for patent protection. Pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms have criticized the decision as hampering investment in research. Nature, however, sees a “silver lining” in the decision.  The journal notes that the decision may in fact hasten innovation by lowering competitive barriers. Additionally, Nature points out that patents are still available for technologies used to exploit stem cells and that there are other means of insulating proprietary information from competitors. According to Nature, by “creating an anything-goes atmosphere,” the court ruling could attract scientists from abroad, making Europe the leading center for stem cell research.