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EU Court Rules Against Stem Cell Patents For Research

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-hereby-patent-your-soul dept.

Patents 84

LibRT writes with this excerpt from the BBC: "Europe's highest court has ruled that stem cells from human embryos cannot be patented, in a case that could have major implications for medicine. ... The European Court of Justice said in a statement: 'The use of human embryos for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and are useful to it is patentable. But their use for purposes of scientific research is not patentable.' It added: 'A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst [early embryo] stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented.'"

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What about techniques that don't destroy it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758476)

Can a technique for extracting embryonic stem cells from an embryo and letting the embryo replace those cells be patented?

Re:What about techniques that don't destroy it? (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758554)


In conclusion, the Court holds that an invention is excluded from patentability where the implementation of the process requires either the prior destruction of human embryos or their prior use as base material, even if, in the patent application, the description of that process, as in the present case, does not refer to the use of human embryos.

Re:What about techniques that don't destroy it? (2)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758564)

Oh, unless of course the technique is useful to the embryo. Forgot to mention this important exception...

Nevertheless, the Court points out that the patentability of uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes is not prohibited under the Directive where it concerns the use for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and which are useful to it – for example to correct a malformation and improve the chances of life.

Re:What about techniques that don't destroy it? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759620)

You could also allow a technique which extract cells, and freezes/stores the embryo without actually explicitly destroying it as part of the procedure.

In short, the law is meaningless when it comes to corporate knowledge hoarding.

Re:What about techniques that don't destroy it? (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37767236)

No, the ruling is against techniques that destroy the embryo or require "their prior use as a base material."

The point is moo (-1, Offtopic)

vaene (1981644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758540)

Like a cows opinion, nobody cares, because with the Debt Crisis there is a good chance the EU might not be around next year.

Re:The point is moo (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758574)

yea have not heard that for the last few years or anything

Re:The point is moo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758596)

Spain here. We want out.

Re:The point is moo (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758618)

So Spain wants out of the Common Market? I'm sure they'll do quite nicely once the customs booths pop up around the border with France. That will really help the Spanish recovery.

Re:The point is moo (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759136)

Won't make any difference - French farmer routinely block trucks carrying Spanish produce.

Re:The point is moo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758894)

So some of you people really do believe populist party slogans that the EU is responsible for completely breaking your economy? Protip, hermano: you'd be standing in line for food stamps right now if you weren't in the EU.

Re:The point is moo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758996)

You mean like all those poor starving souls in Norway? Switzerland?

Re:The point is moo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759738)

Problem is, Spain doesn't have shitloads of oil like Norway, or shitloads of money through banking like Switzerland does.

Spain would be 10% of what it is today without the help of EU.

Re:The point is moo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758696)

Problems don't go away like fads, buddy.

Re:The point is moo (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758610)

The Eurozone and the EU are two different things. A collapse of the Eurozone is not a collapse of the EU.

Euro zone is profitable (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758824)

Just to remember that the Eurozone trades at a profit, it has more money coming in than going out, even with the interest.

It may be a good talking point to focus on Greece, but it gives a false impression of the Eurozone as a whole. I notice the UK and USA are the ones saying "get your house in order with a Greece bailout" while they're printing money, effectively trying to talk down the Euro without actually *seeming* to talk down the Euro. All the while doing Quantitative Easing.

Quantitive Easing is monetary fraud, where the central bank creates money and buys worthless assets to create a false valuation. Buying up failed betting slips from Wallstreet with freshly printed money.

As for EU = Eurozone, not really, EU covers a much wider set of countries, and several currencies, and is the worlds largest trading block.

BTW, with the Federal Reserve buying failed betting slips from Investment banks, those banks are drawing $5 TRILLION (see link below) in bonuses based on their track record in successful betting!

You may make software worth $100k in value, but although you create the value, the money corresponding to that value is handed basically free to investment bankers by the Federal Reserve.

So I'm not worried about the EU, I'm more worried about the US, and UK and their monopoly money.

Re:Euro zone is profitable (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37762418)

Quantitative easing - isn't that just another term for fiat money? The old generations understand fiat money. The youngsters probably don't understand just how worthless the dollar really is. Let's try this: your dollar isn't worth the paper, rags, and ink used to print it on! That dollar isn't backed by silver, gold, or even oil. It's nothing. It's ONLY value, is the faith that people have in the US Federal Reserve. And, that Fed is privately owned, by many of the same people who have been shipping jobs out of America to China for the past two decades!

Imagine that . . .

Re:The point is moo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758846)

You are an idiot of galactic proportions.

Re:The point is moo (0)

Empiric (675968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758946)

Fortunately, the EU is made up of organisms with the magical rights-imbuing DNA sequence, so we should care about that.

Oh wait. Naturalism is still philosophically incoherent, isn't it? Forgot there for a second.


Official Press Release (4, Informative)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758560)

The official press release is here [] . It is much more specific and easier to interpret than the BBC article, which is perfunctory as usual.

Public Domain isn't being looted anymore. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758570)

Now, anyone who is similar to you will be patented, and any non-registerred look-alikes will be sued for infringment.

Notice how everyone in China and Alabama look the same? It just tanks that one rebel Chinaman or Alabaman to register
his own genetics and then he's sold-out his entire genome like accusing everyone else of being a counterfeiter. What is this called?

  I remember a lady over in Galicia pated the Sun, and how does it happen in The Law (tm) if
another solar system is discovered to have a Sun indistinguishable from the Sun of which this planet Earth orbits?

Re:Public Domain isn't being looted anymore. (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37765682)

If you re-read your comment while sober, you'll find out why it wasn't such a hot idea to post while being drunk AND stoned at the same time.

Right for the wrong reasons (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758706)

The patent system is broken and inhibits innovation. This decision may have had the effect of stimulating exactly the kind of life-saving research they were trying to block.

Quick, can we convince them that all science is of the devil so they'll scrap the patent system entirely? Donate to Fox and the Westboro Baptists if you have to.

Questions...? (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758728)

Is this good for research in general? So that universities or research institutions don't get gouged with patent fees?

Or is this some kind of "moral" issue like the one we seem to have here in the US when it comes to anything to do with this subject?

My big question is can we ever truly socialize medicine in the Western societies? Will there always be big pharmaceutical corporations lurking around to get rich off of the human condition? Is greed the only driving factor of progress? While I am at it, I really feel that patenting genes of any kind is all kinds of wrong. Unless you altered a gene or found a way to repair it, as on a low level in the structure of it, I think it's arrogance at its finest to claim a patent on such things.

My case in point is how Monsanto patented life in their seeds, and now dominate the markets. Watch Food Inc. to get the gist of that nightmare. When it comes to patents of science, I don't trust them. Our systems are full of corruption that are too vulnerable to corporate influence. If it's not corruption, then its blatant ignorance and down right stupidity. I got a feeling as we advance in biotech science, we are going to be vulnerable to exploitation by some seriously bad elements that will capitalize on the "lawlessness of the frontier". This is how robber barons get established early on and we are never rid of their ilk, as their institutions, corporations and heirs continue to reap the benefits or just have an unfair head start on the competition, or a combination of both.

Multinational corporations can bypass our "moral" impediments here by doing their research in Europe. But can we trust Europe to keep an intelligent eye on them for the sake of all humanity? I would like to hope so, but....time will tell.

Re:Questions...? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759546)

It's a moral issue.

EU Patent laws prohibits biotechnological patents that are against the public good, clone humans, modify the germ line identity of humans, use embryos for industrial or commercial purposes and modify the genetic identity of animals in a way that causes suffering but doesn't give substantial medical benefit.

This patent came under the "uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes" clause.

Re:Questions...? (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37760712)

No modifying the germ line of humans? Interesting subject after briefly reading about it, it was the one thing you mentioned that made me go "huh..?" Personally I think we should tamper with these things, but we shouldn't make it exclusive to any particular entity until we iron out all of the scientific bugs and have a complete understanding of it so that the field is level as far as commercial or mass production.

I think augmenting ourselves is a great idea and worth the risk. We are up against the galactic clock of getting off this rock before another rock slams into us and turns us all into ooze if we are lucky. Unlucky, we and even the cockroaches and Republicans are dead. I was hoping Europe wasn't going to get entangled with pesky "moral" issues like we are in our "oh my, we shouldn't play God" stupidity. With that mentality we shouldn't even have aspirin and should live in caves. Being hampered by corporate greed is more of my worry, due to these institutions are psychopathic in their "human nature".

Re:Questions...? (2)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37761300)

In Europe it's almost never a question about "oh my, we shouldn't play God" in public debate since most countries have pushed religion out of the political sphere.

Rather the issue is that it's hard to distinguish bioengineering humans from racial biology, which is a field that Europe has shunned ever since the Nazi's lost the war since the fear is that those atrocities might happen again.

Re:Questions...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37763122)

So, in other words, it's, "Hiter did/wanted to do it! Therefore, it's bad!"

Completely idiotic, in my opinion.

Re:Questions...? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37763400)

My big question is can we ever truly socialize medicine in the Western societies? Will there always be big pharmaceutical corporations lurking around to get rich off of the human condition? Is greed the only driving factor of progress?

You can never socialize society until you socialize the human heart. As long as people care more about their own selves and profit than they do about the sufferings of their brother, then collectivism will be impossible.

Focus on changing people, not on changing rules; when the people change, they will change the rules. Don't think this is impossible, look how far we've come already.

Re:Questions...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37764276)

You can never socialize society until you socialize the human heart. As long as people care more about their own selves and profit than they do about the sufferings of their brother, then collectivism will be impossible.

Thank God, we're safe then.

Re:Questions...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37767566)

The poster you're replying to has considered that angle. He states that he is in favour of genetically re-engineering humans, precisely because of the possibility that we might be able to remove whatever thought-crime genes make people religious or (his words) Republican. He sees the goal of humanity as a sort of Star Trek expansion into space and believes that anyone resisting collectivism is a barrier to that goal. Terrifying stuff, but at least we cannot accuse him of failing to appreciate the implications of his ideas. If only every totalitarian could be so honest.

Re:Questions...? (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 2 years ago | (#37770224)

My case in point is how Monsanto patented life in their seeds, and now dominate the markets

So? Aren't plant breeders allowed to have a return on their investment? My favorite apple, SnowSweet, is patented [] , and were it not for the success of the breeder's last patented apple, HoneyCrisp, it might not exist today. Why should Monsanto be any different? I don't care whether you like them or not, but they're not in the wrong on this one. And by the way, their first patent expires in 2014, and they plan to let it. [] Seems like they're doing it a lot better than the RIAA & MPAA are handling copyright.

Watch Food Inc. to get the gist of that nightmare

Ugh. That's like saying listen to Jenny McCarthy to understand the vaccine nightmare. Food Inc was biased rubbish geared towards people who know nothing about agriculture. I couldn't even stomach the damn thing. If it's patents you're concerned about, think about this tidbit:

"I have been for years in correspondence with leading breeders, nurserymen, and federal officials, and I despair of anything being done at present to secure to the plant breeder any adequate returns for his enormous outlays of energy and money. A man can patent a mousetrap or copyright a nasty song, but if he gives the world a new fruit that will add millions to the value of the earth’s annual harvests he will be fortunate if he is rewarded so much as having his name connected with the result. Though the surface of the plant experimentation has thus far been only scratched and there is so much immeasurably important work to be done in this line, I would hesitate to advise a young man, no matter how gifted or devoted, to adopt plant breeding as a life work until America takes some action to protect his unquestioned right to some benefit from his achievements."

Sound like paid defender of Monsanto? Nope, that was from a letter written by Luther Burbank, one of the most famous and visionary plant breeders who ever lived, who lived in an age when Mendelian genetics were still novel and was an early supporter of plant patents whose views helped create the Plant Patent Act of 1930 (though he died before it was passed). Plant breeding, and genetic engineering, is a hard, time consuming process that adds a lot of value to the world. Farmers wouldn't buy crops with production orientated traits if they weren't beneficial, and consumers tend to liek things that taste good (like HoneyCrisp apples, which just went off patent recently). Those who do contribute to the world in such a meaningful way deserve their fair share of the return for their investment.

When it comes to patents of science, I don't trust them

Fair enough, I'm not big fan of them either, and I can think of a few. By all means, keep a close eye on corporations, I'm not saying they're to be fully trusted, but there is a big difference between science and a product, and a big difference between a reasonable patent allowing the inventor to get a return on investment.

I like plant patents, I like like that those in plant improvement can make a living, and so should you. I like my SnowSweet, and the program that made it might not even be able to exist without patents. That's just the way of the world. Yes, it'd be nice if this stuff had more public funding (a lot more), but instead funding for these sorts of things at universities is being increasingly cut by short sighted assholes (at my university, the university's president, a pompous douchebag if ever there were one, cut the ag department's budget while increasing his own salary), and no wonder, when people know so little about agriculture that Food Inc wins awards, who can be surprised that this is where we end up, with large corporations leading the way?

Re:Questions...? (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37770926)

What I particularly didn't care for in Food Inc was the guy that had the machine that sifted out the seeds so that a farmer could grow his own seeds to replant and all of the shit he was going through from Monsanto. Even if they had their own strain and it got cross pollinated from someone nearby they were burned with patent violations. Also the whole chicken farms ordeal, and how cattle end up in so much filth didn't strike me very well either. I am sure there were some things you could take issue with in that documentary, but to throw it all out seems a bit questionable.

Jenny McCarthy? Did you have to? That was harsh dude.

Why aren't universities that main source of seeds? Shouldn't they be the driving force behind research and be the ones holding patents that they fairly control with a wee touch of oversight to keep them fair? Wouldn't it be a great way to raise funding for them?

I seriously hate what you said about your university. Two gripes I have with universities: a. they are overran by athletics, which in my opinion have no damn place in academia. I am in a CC at the moment, (ha, no surprise, huh) and I am working with 3D CAD programs of 2011 on Windows XP computers. I do my best work at home on my personal computer because it's a beast compared to what's at school. But if our baseball team needed them, I feel they would be the top of the line models. I find sports to be some twisted neolithic voyeuristic narcissism. They drag in ball players from all over, and most of them can't speak English, how are they suppose to keep any kind of a grade? One "star athlete" from NY was in my speech class, but I only seen him once. He got a pass I am sure. If the teachers don't bow to the wishes of these coaches and keep these idiots in grades they don't deserve, I am sure they can be fired.

We wonder why we are falling so far behind the rest of the world when our focus is on sports. Seriously, how does knocking a damn ball around promote the welfare and development of our country. Don't anyone give me any bullshit about "we need a diversion", or entertainment.

B. Our focus on education is down right comically full of stupidity and fail. Our universities and colleges should be the focal points of our communities. Social experiences and education should revolve around them. All education should be public, if you have the ability, it should be cultivated. How many geniuses in God knows how many areas are pissed away because of an education system that not only fails to recognize and cultivate them, but the damn greedy money system involved makes it for the privileged at certain levels. Sure there is funding, but you have to beat the bushes with a machete to find it. We need education about education and that seems to be full of damn fail at the lower levels.

I probably sound like a socialist, but I am not, I guess I am a hybrid between socialism and capitalism. There are two things that drive labor costs up through the roof so that we can't have the industry we need here. One is education, we simply aren't producing the minds we need. Two is health care. The health care industry from top to bottom is raping us. I feel we would save money socializing it and education. We should tie the two together, and hand out patents to help fund them both. Meaning if the education system develops a medicine, they patent it and license it to be produced. Someone then cranks out the pills, makes some money and pays their license. We get cheaper medicine, the education/health system makes some money and everyone gets health care. Industry isn't burdened with messing with it. I think it would fight inflation. All around, I think these are two monster industries that need thrown under the damn socialism bus for the good of everyone.

We need national pride in both, like our military. Our military is one of the biggest social programs we have and we all support it, it's honorable to serve and it has great benefits. You don't hear anyone bitching about our military being "commie socialists". On a side note, we are getting into some privatized military bullshit that frankly scares and pisses me off. What a time to be a mercenary!

Oh well, I have ranted enough for now and probably have made myself even more a fool. Good conversation though, but Jenny McCarthy? Damn...that

Re:Questions...? (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 2 years ago | (#37787112)

Ok, ok, maybe comparing it to Jenny McCarthy was a bit much. Maybe I'm guilty of exaggerating a bit there. Just a comparison to drive home that for many who know much about agriculture Food Inc is, well, not exactly the most complete picture. I mean, yeah, iit wasn't all bad. There are good points and criticisms to be made about the food supply in general, like worker's issues and animal abuse and whatnot. I just can't stand the overly dramatic 'we're going to tell you what THEY don't want you to know' one sided stuff. Like seeds. If you buy Monsanto's seeds, there are benefits and drawbacks that should be presented. If you think that signing the contract saying that you won't save seed (and if you do, pay the license fee for it) isn't worth the better weed control/elimination of tilling and/or pest control/reduction in the need to use pesticides (depending on which type of seed we mean), then don't buy it. Most farmers don't save seed anyway, and haven't since heterosis was discovered and farmers started taking advantage of hybrid vigor. Most seed sold today is hybrid seed (not to be confused with GE seed...all GE seed sold is hybrid seed, but not all hybrid seed is GE seed, and GE seed does not necessarily have to be hybrid seed), which produces better yields in the first year, but loses genetic stability the second year and isn't suitable for replanting. Of course, there's a lot more that could be said about nuances and complexities (like cross pollination issues and heirloom/OP seed), but in general I don't imagine most farmers take issue with it, but if you want to make the must see documentary of the year, you don't talk to most farmers.

I'm not saying it is optimal, but I'm not much bothered by it either. What would be optimal, IMO, would be apomixis traits, which would have the vigor of hybrid seed, but would breed true allowing farmers to save seed and have hybrid yields. No company is going to work on something like that though; it'd risk putting them out of business unless all they did was collect a yearly license fee. Which goes back to public research. That would have been a better topic for a documentary. Land grant universities were founded to contribute to agriculture, and now those departments are withering. I'm not sure that the universities should be a source of seed as in mass producing and selling the seed though, but development, yeah, that'd be pretty nice. I sometimes wonder if we would have the anti-GMO hysteria had universities been the main source of seed development from the get-go (although there is a history there). Even if we're not talking biotech, it'd be nice to see more university funded research, not just to avoid the need for contracts so that the company can ensure a profit and eliminate other inefficiencies, but because they can do things companies can't. Biodiversity research comes to mind (here's my rant). In the event that big diseases (like Ug99) or some other problem hits one or more major staple crops, then that's not going to end well. If staple (and other) crops were more diversified this lessens the likelihood that any one problem will be catastrophic. Companies can't do this research because no one is going to buy it at first...I mean, imagine the average consumer walks into a megamart and encounters oca, yacon, mashua, screwpine, breadfruit, sago, ensete, quinoa, fonio, teff, chaya, salicornia, nopales, jujube, pawpaw, goumi, naranjilla, cassabanana, canistel, jabuticaba, or (my favorite) lychee, to name a small few. What happens? They don't notice or care. Not a very good way of making money. Universities could do it though. Monoculture courts disaster (although there's nuance here too, to say monoculture is all bad is an oversimplification), and I think the improvement and introduction of such crops to the food supply would act as a hedge against risk. But there's not much funding for crop improvement anymore, and even less for undercultivated crops, and you're nuts if you think you can use biotechnology on them (regulatory barriers are way too high, much higher than scientifically justifiable).

That's what I'd do if I made a documentary anyway. Ditch the misleading stuff about industrial agriculture, pesticides, and biotechnology like genetic engineering and cloning, but focus on real issues they could improve on like biological and low input alternatives to current growing methods (note that this does not imply support for the idiocy that is organic farming...two totally different animals), keep the parts about how we need to treat workers and animals better (not that they're always mistreated), lose the support for the dogmatic idiocy that is organic farming (or as I like to call it, naturopathy for agriculture, or the Argumentum ad Naturam you can eat), present a more nuanced view on local food (I support it for economic reasons, but it its a lot more complicated than its made out to be), and add parts about the importance of having more biotechnology, stress the importance of increased biodiversity, and advocate more publicly funded research into these areas.

But I do agree with a lot of the rest you said. At my university, football is a religion, the coach is a god, and complaining about it is apostasy. I wouldn't want to be the one to openly challenge that. It brings in a lot of money to the university and surrounding area (having a liqueur license there is like having a license to print money...the student parking lot reeks of booze for days after a game), but I think it is pretty separate from the academic and research programs. I don't think any of it goes to anything worthwhile. Be nice if they put some of that to my ailing department, which might be next on the chopping block if the College of Ag takes another hit and odds are it won't even exist in a decade (yeah, if you haven't already guessed I'm in an Ag sci major). Colleges making decisions based on sports is like the NFL making someone a quaterback because they've got a PhD. It's stupid. I've never met any of the players on my university's team, but I've heard they get some real perks, and nothing would surprise me. It'd be nice if more people cared about the sciences, if society encouraged more kids to aspire to be something that really matters, than an over-glorified game of catch. I mean, I get that everyone's got hobbies and that exercise is important, but it is really something else the pedestal we put that stuff on.

I agree about making education available to everyone. I've got no problem with 'socializing' education. Well, I'd add the caveat that I don't see the point in making yet another English lit degree (or any other of those types...sorry for those who want a degree in philosophy or religious studies or whatever, but those really aren't worth the cost), but for the STEM fields, then yeah. But since a lot of problems are probably started before people even get to university, that's probably where improvements would need to start. I remember some fairly smart people in high school who never understood that they actually had any potential at all, probably because no one even gave a shit. And as for higher education, I'd be in favor of a class based affirmative action system (yeah, class warfare, oooh!). Any private colleges want to keep up their good ol' old boys club crap? Yeah, the government owns you now, too bad. Also, I wouldn't mind seeing some good auditing being done to state supported schools. President Asshole at my university wastes a shitload of money, and the university just finished a new building that has an enormous useless space wasting structure hanging off it, meanwhile people are laid off and tuition goes up (and, while building that architectural fuck you to efficiency, from what I hear they're considering destroying the greenhouses to make more space!).

And yeah, I don't see health as something you should have to bankrupt yourself over (provided the government doesn't screw it up more than it already is, something I don't know if either party could handle right now).

I get where you're coming from there. To say that these things are important and should be supported isn't socialism, its more along the lines of utilitarianism if anything, just saying that this would work well in the end for everyone. I for one ultimately don't care what somethings called, socialism, capitalism, whatever, as long as what is being done works. If there needs to be some ideological mix & match, so be it.

Cell patents bad, but brain implants ok ?! (0)

Roark Meets Dent (650119) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758732)

This seems like a good thing on the surface, but the EU is now a bloc where people in most of the countries are getting their brains implanted [] left and right for non-consensual human monitoring and control purposes. The victims usually think they are "human research subjects" but more often than not, it seems like a means of high-tech political control of human populations. So it's nice to see a ruling where cells cannot be patented (if that is indeed what this is about) but where is the outrage over using other technologies that effectively allow humans to be owned directly, without their cells being patented? Just an open question.

Re:Cell patents bad, but brain implants ok ?! (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758928)

That's an interesting technology. When it works we will have to use it on all politicians to remind them that they are there for their people and not for themselves.

Re:Cell patents bad, but brain implants ok ?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759128)

Link to a page full of videos I'm not going to sit around and watch, clicked around the site for text pages, and there's nothing even pretending to explain how any effective mind control is technically achieved (brain monitoring with implants is a well-known field that's been developing since the '80s or so, but every fool knows reading is easier than writing).

Long on anecdotes, short on technical documentation = the thick stench of crackpottery.

And if you don't want people reading your thoughts? Don't sign up for any research involving brain implants, duh. As long as it's voluntary, there's nothing unethical about it.

Re:Cell patents bad, but brain implants ok ?! (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37762780)

Mind control. Yeah, right. If the EU had mind control, they'd have shared it with the US government by now. And, the mind controllers would have peacefully, casually, and invisibly herded all those "Occupy Wall Street" protesters into holding pens by now.

Like AC has already said - you link to videos that will take hours to watch. Interviews of people that no one has ever heard of. I'm going to waste my day watching videos of nobodies? No way, Jose. Especially so, since I'm more than 99.1% convinced that they are raging lunatics to start with!

Fuckin-A ! (2)

RedLeg (22564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758796)

For non-american consumers of the english language, the subject line means: "Damn right, about time!"

Hopefully the sanity will spread in a viral sense internationally, as in to the US and other patent-tarded(tm) countries.


Re:Fuckin-A ! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37761484)

You didn't understand the spirit of the ruling. It is meant to punish the researchers by denying them patent rights, on the moral grounds, for destroying human embryo. It is "Pro-Life", not "Anti-Patent".

Re:Fuckin-A ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37801794)

You didn't understand the spirit of the ruling. It is meant to punish the researchers by denying them patent rights, on the moral grounds, for destroying human embryo. It is "Pro-Life", not "Anti-Patent".

It also says you *can* get a patent for stem cell based technology which benefits an embryo, so a prenatal test is patentable under this ruling.

Re:Fuckin-A ! (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 2 years ago | (#37761708)

All they need to do is ban patenting genes next.

This is tantamount to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37758892)

"A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst is something that nobody will put money into, other than some government agency. At least in the EU."

Woot (2)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#37758912)

Nice to see there are still some brain cells working in the EU.

Re:Woot (2, Informative)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759016)

No. This is actually two stories in one.

1. EU allows patenting of medical procedures on cellular level (it would be patentable if it was for the "benefit" of the embryo.
2. EU adopted US-style "embryos are babies!!!" bullshit. The only reason why it was not patentable was because it affects "dignity" of embryo. Remainder of sanity prevented them, so far, from charging anyone with murder, however they can't possibly avoid this line of reasoning unless they will reverse the whole thing.

Re:Woot (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759058)

OMG. It seemed too good to be true already and now my belief in the saneness of the EU has vanished completey. I would emigrate, but Europe is still the best place to live in on this planet.

Re:Woot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759118)

No real big loss though now that any kind of stem cell can now be generated from adult stem cells.

Re:Woot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759486)

re 2) Actually, no. Rather than taking any politically debatable stance on what does or does not consitute a human being, the judges made the only objective decision: it is human from conception onward. They did not use "baby" or "person" anywhere in their ruling. They used "human".

Regardless of your hyperbole, "the Court points out firstly that it is not called upon to broach questions of a medical or ethical nature". And second "the Court notes that the grant of a patent for an invention implies, in principle, its industrial or commercial application". The latter is expressly prohibited for human embryos by the European directive 98/44/EC.

Re:Woot (1)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759500)

Looks more like "Yes, you can patent the treatments you invent, as with all drugs, but you cannot patent the method of research itself just because it is hard and need special equipment instead of a lab rat and a scalpal."

Re:Woot (2)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759530)

Huh? It's important to realize that the EU only regulates economic policies, not criminal ones. The member states have full independence on how they want to define murder.

Secondly the relevant law referred to is this:
Article 6

1. Inventions shall be considered unpatentable where their commercial exploitation would be contrary to ordre public or morality; however, exploitation shall not be deemed to be so contrary merely because it is prohibited by law or regulation.

2. On the basis of paragraph 1, the following, in particular, shall be considered unpatentable:

(a) processes for cloning human beings;

(b) processes for modifying the germ line genetic identity of human beings;

(c) uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes;

(d) processes for modifying the genetic identity of animals which are likely to cause them suffering without any substantial medical benefit to man or animal, and also animals resulting from such processes.

Re:Woot (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37760974)

Forbidding death penalty for all EU members can be interpreted as criminal policy

Wrong Institution (1)

andersh (229403) | more than 2 years ago | (#37769952)

No, that's not entirely correct. The country must have stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. The criteria [] are not clear cut however.

The ban on capital punishment is part of the European Convention on Human Rights [] . The convention is a membership requirement for the Council of Europe, an entirely separate body that predates the European Union.

It is generally understood that both membership of the CoE and ratification of the ECHR is a requirement for EU membership.

Re:Woot (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37769128)

"Dignity of an embryo" has absolutely nothing to do with economic policy.

Re:Woot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37760878)

It's those Catholic Germans at it again. They have, together with the "greens", invented all kinds of imaginary moral dilemmas before to hamper human progress.

Re:Woot (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37762830)

Another poster, way up above, has already made reference to the eugenics programs of the Nazi party. That "dignity" thing has far less to do with any question of God's existence, than it has to do with the atrocities committed in the name of "science", before and during WW2.

Re:Woot (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37769154)

Another poster, way up above, has already made reference to the eugenics programs of the Nazi party.

Nazi had no eugenics program. Germans were supposed to be perfect already.

That "dignity" thing has far less to do with any question of God's existence, than it has to do with the atrocities committed in the name of "science", before and during WW2.

That's bullshit. Embryos are not people.

Re:Woot (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37769288)

Troll, much?

The Nazis did indeed have eugenics. Why did you think they were trying to rid the world of the Jews?

And, it doesn't matter whether you choose to believe that human embryos are not people. They are HUMAN. Try reading. The Euro prohibition specifically uses the word HUMAN. A human embryo is certainly not canine, or feline, or - whatever.

Re:Woot (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37769546)

The Nazis did indeed have eugenics. Why did you think they were trying to rid the world of the Jews?

That is not eugenics. Nazi believed that they are the master race, and had to subjugate or remove the rest.

And, it doesn't matter whether you choose to believe that human embryos are not people. They are HUMAN.

So is human blood. And even human excrement, but blood is a better example because it's both human and alive, yet does not constitute a human life.

Try reading. The Euro prohibition specifically uses the word HUMAN. A human embryo is certainly not canine, or feline, or - whatever.

That's idiotic word games. I can just as well argue that dolls and portraits should be treated as people because they are HUMAN depictions.

Re:Woot (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37769638)

I know, it's only wikipedia - but you can begin your education there. If you should so choose, you can study more in depth later. Eugenics. Hitler. []

Re:Woot (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37771266)

It IS Wikipedia. Worse yet, it's a Wikipedia article on 20th century politics, something about as authoritative as scrawling on a public bathroom's stall. Most of the "references" it has, do not even have the word "eugenics" anywhere in the text. Nazi were concerned with "purity" of what they believed to be the master race. So was every racist over the whole history of mankind, and almost everyone before the concepts of "racism" and "xenophobia" became recognized and not just the default behavior. It was the very least of their problems, and had very little to do with extermination or mistreatment of people of "lower races". It would be giving way too much of a credit to racists to claim that they are engaged in "eugenics". If anything, a Nazi would be horrified at the thought of involving members of lower races in anything that involves development of "better" people.

BTW, most of my grandfather's family was killed by Nazi in the massacre of Streshin/Zhlobin Jews.

Re:Woot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37764898)

Those days as an embryo were some good times...

The bad and the ugly (2)

rmstar (114746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759156)

This is one of those things. Here the broken patent system came together with religion and superstition and the outcome is not good for anyone. Embryos are now considered full human beings before the law, which will have detrimental repercussions in law everywhere (for example, abortion law). Research on the use of stem cells will be seriously delayed, if not halted altogether, and not because of the lack of patents (which would, if anything, spur innovation by removing legal risks).

There are a lot of therapies for serious illnesses that could be developed without these insane religious sensibilities. So much suffering for nothing.

Re:The bad and the ugly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759204)

Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. has a process to derive embryonic stem cells without harming the embryo.
They are one of two companies with h/Esc products before the FDA for human trials.

Re:The bad and the ugly (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759560)

You can't patent work that relies on embryonic stem cells, but you're free to research them as much as you want. This decision is about patents and only patents.

This is because the EU only has the power to make economic decisions, like Patents. The actual criminal laws are made by the individual member states.

Re:The bad and the ugly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37759916)

Anything that is a " creation of God " ie what nature does by itself , should not be patentable.
It is part of ourselves. How can anyone let patents be taken on something they have not created ?
If i find a new gene pair , i havent created it . i observed it
Observing and creating is two things. If i was to create a stem cell in a lab then id say : ok patent that.
But when one takes the human body , or any part and tries to grab that and patent it , now that should be a no.
It is not their creation. It is nature in it's beauty revealing itself.

Re:The bad and the ugly (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37760402)

The EU has no powers over the actual laws on embryo experiments, or as the other side would call it, chopping up babies for spare parts. I'm pretty sure if you look at countries like Ireland or Portugal it is already illegal there.

discovering (2)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759190)

In older days these kind of things would have been called "discovery" rather then "invention". I predict a future where people will claim to have invented math too. Oh wait, that would be software patents.

Re:discovering (1)

harlequinn (909271) | more than 2 years ago | (#37760242)

I predict a future where people will claim to have invented math too. Oh wait, that would be software patents.

My sentiment exactly. And yet they still get allowed. Why? Are patent examiners ignorant of this fact?

Re:discovering (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37762744)

It's a fuzzy line between discovery and invention.

Re:discovering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37763380)

No, it's not. Discovery is something that exists. Invention is synthesized from things that exist.

Shit summary, shit article (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759212)

"X" and "a method for creating X" are two entirely different things.

Science? (2)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759398)

I'm appalled at the reaction of the scientists, one guy basically said "We get funded by the public to do the research but how are we supposed to monetize it without patents?".
This is not how I was brought up to believe science is supposed to be conducted.

Re:Science? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37759484)

Well, his argument was actually
"If a company can't get a patent based on my research, how will I convince them to implement my research?"

Though it sorta falls flat on its face. Companies fall over-themselves in the harsh competition to implement stuff that's out of patent protection.

Re:Science? (3, Informative)

kwikrick (755625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37760304)

No, he's basically saying: Why research something that will never be used? No company is going to invest huge sums in technology that cannot be patented. A university cannot be expected (and will not get funded!) to work out the details needed for mass production, or run the expensive trials needed for FDA approval.

Re:Science? (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | more than 2 years ago | (#37761016)

This is Europe. The FDA has no jurisdiction there.

Re:Science? (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37766046)

Yeah this ruling is a very conservative pro-life ruling that prevents scientists from monetizing their inventions and essentially limits the rate of innovation. How can a researcher convince his university or company to invest money in something that they won't be able to earn any profit on? Yes, yes it's oh-so-terrible they want to make money on cures for the diseased, but that's freaking life.

Despite what slashdot thinks, patents serve a very important purpose in a capitalistic society. While perhaps abused by large corporations, the method of throwing out the baby with the bathwater reveals a lack of understanding of why the system came to exist in the first place.

Re:Science? (1)

pD-brane (302604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37761502)

Don't twist the words, the exact quote is:

We are funded to do research for the public good, yet prevented from taking our discoveries to the marketplace where they could be developed into new medicines.

So he does not say "funded by the public", but "funded [...] for the public good", etc.

Based on the actual quote you can give an argument for that this person is still an ass. Indeed, large parts of the funding are from the public, and therefore any inventions^H, ahum, discoveries(!) should be "returned" to the public immediately. There is still a market, medicines can be made from non-patented discoveries. If this is not possible, we are even in deeper shit that I thought.

car analogy (1)

kwikrick (755625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37760284)

A production process for a car can be patented, but not if you want to use the car for scientific research. Also, if the production process offends any one, sane or insane, then it is not patentable.


Patents are means to stimulate innovation, not stifle it!

Re:car analogy (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37761822)

Actually it's the use of car parts for industrial or commercial use that can't be patented. However you're allowed to patent the use of car parts to improve cars. Scientific Research is interpreted as being commercial/industrial use and thus can't be patented.

Eye opener (1)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 2 years ago | (#37761006)

BBC article was kinda eye opener how this old, corrupt system works in people minds - as long as you don't have monopoly for something, you wont invest in it. Even if competition will invest and will produce treatements. Even if you will go bancrupt because of such thinking.

This is usual "intellectual property" proponent's argument and have been struck down so many times. So why they return to it? Because it is just how they see it - everything in this world moves because of greed.

No matter how big EU problems are, some things really works by common sense here.

Interesting scientific ethics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37762408)

As a scientist myself, I am somewhat shocked by Prof. Bruestle's statement: "European researchers may conduct basic research, which is then implemented elsewhere in medical procedures, which will eventually be reimported to Europe. How do I explain this to my students?"

Explain your student that this is what publicly funded research is meant for! When the method is not patented this means that everybody (yes, even in Europe) may implement it, and this is a good thing. And by the way: basic research was never meant to be patentable at all.

Re:Interesting scientific ethics (1)

drgregoryhouse (1909704) | more than 2 years ago | (#37765538)

He needs to explain to his students that they can be rich beyond their wildest dreams because of their scientific discovery, sadly the court decision killed the dream. Actually he can explain to his student that it is a chicken and egg situation, without stem cells to begin with, there wouldn't be anything to implement with. Therefore, his scientific research will still have to be funded.

Republican (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37764136)

If an American Republican had done this, she would be called "anti-science."

Embryonic stem cell patents infringe EU law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37770950)

While most people will read this and discuss the use of embryos in heated voices and others will discuss the effects on science (both important discussions to have), I see only one result from this. The European Union has set a precedent which, if copied in other countries, will absolutely force pharmaceutical companies to make patentable drugs out of embryonic stem cells instead of using adult stem cells which have a long history of safety and efficacy. Which countries are in the European Union and which Pharma company HQ's are in EU countries...

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