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SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Tuesday, 6 July 2004


This from Findlaw: the European Patent Office has just upheld a Harvard University patent on a mouse genetically altered to develop cancer, but restricted its wording so that it applies only to mice and not to all species of rodents. The pan-European patent, granted in 1992, protects the method of producing the animals. But the ruling, which closes a years-long legal battle with environmental groups, added further qualifications to a 2001 ruling that limited the patent to rodents, rather than mammals in general.

The EPO acknowledged concerns about ethical questions and animal rights, but also said the medical uses of the patent must be weighed. A collection of religious, environmental and animal protection groups, among them Greenpeace, had argued for the patent to be cancelled, saying that it violated the dignity of living beings. After the 2001 ruling, six organisations filed an appeal. The development of the mouse was intended to ease research and treatment of tumours in humans. The US Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to the Harvard mouse in 1988, the first "transgenic" animal patent to be granted. The patent from the Munich-based European Patent Office is valid in 11 European countries.

The IPKat considers it highly appropriate that an altered mouse should be the subject of an amended patent. He also notices that the university only designated 11 countries; the EPO now allows a patent application to designate up to 28 member states.

Altered mice here, here and here
Mouse-related patents here, here and here

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