Ruling on Europe Stem Cell Patent Called "Sensible"

BRUSSELS, Belgium, NOV. 27, 2008 ( A spokesman for the European bishops says the decision to deny patents for embryonic stem cells is “sensible.”

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Father Piotr Mazurkiewicz, secretary-general of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, welcomed the decision made public today by the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office.

With the decision, the patent office has determined that European patent law prohibits the patenting of human stem cell cultures whose preparation necessarily involves the destruction of human embryos.

The European bishops had already in 2006 prepared a brief to explain the objections to the proposed patent.

“Even if patent law is formally only designed to entitle one to prevent other people from using a given invention — or to sell licenses enabling them to use it — patents nevertheless imply a certain amount of support for the patented invention,” a statement from the bishops explained. “[The prelates] emphasized that for patent applications that relate to human life, the granting of a patent was, in their view, utterly bound up with the ethical dimension.”

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