Patent Watch

U.S. Patent Office Issues a Patent on Human Reproductive Cloning Covers the Embryos, Fetuses, and Children That Would Be Created Through That Process

Date: 05/16/2002

Patent Watch is a project of the International Center for Technology Assessment
May 16, 2002

PATENT WATCH ALSO DISCLOSES THREE PENDING PATENTS WHICH WOULD INCLUDE CLONED HUMAN EMBRYOS AND FETUSES

WATCH DOG GROUP CALLS ON THE PTO AND CONGRESS TO HALT PATENTING OF ALL HUMAN LIFE FORMS AND HUMAN CLONING PROCESSES

Washington D.C. – Patent Watch, a public interest oversight group, announced today that it had uncovered a patent on human reproductive cloning and any “products” created by that process, theoretically including embryos, fetuses and children. The patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,211,429, was granted on April 3, 2001, but went unnoticed until Patent Watch discovered that the claims were applicable to human reproductive cloning. The owner of the patent is the University of Missouri, but financial interest in the patent is shared by a Massachusetts biotech company Biotransplant Inc.

Patent Watch also revealed today that it had uncovered three pending patents currently before the PTO that cover cloned human embryos and fetuses.

  • Patent application serial number 09/816,971, assigned to Geron Corp., which claims a “reconstituted animal embryo” described as having “its main use in . . . mammalian embryos, particularly ruminant, human, or primate embryos;”
  • Patent application serial number 09/755,204, assigned to the Univ. of Connecticut, claiming any “animal” embryo made by a cloning process; and
  • Patent application serial number 09/828,876, assigned to the Univ. of Massachusetts and exclusively licensed to Advanced Cell Technology, claiming a mammalian “fetus obtained according to” a particularly specified cloning process. This patent application specifically contemplates the use of human tissues derived from cloned human embryos, fetuses, and offspring, for transplantation purposes.

Commenting on the pending patents Patent Watch Project Director Peter DiMauro stated, “In deciding on these patents the PTO will be making an historic decision on the commodification of human life. They should reject these patents as violation of public policy.”

The PTO has the legal authority under both national and international law to reject patents that offend public morality or order but did not do so in the case of the Missouri patent. Nor does any current Congressional bill on human cloning halt the patenting of the process or its products. “This is not a slippery slope, rather this an ethical and legal free fall,” stated Patent Watch Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell commenting on the Missouri patent.

“The Patent Office has become a ghoulish human body shop allowing researchers and corporations to patent and own human body parts, cloning processes and even human life forms,” Kimbrell continued.

“The Patent Office and Congress must move quickly to halt this commodification of life and to ban all forms of human cloning,” Kimbrell concluded.

See the Executive Summary here.


CONTACT:
Andrew Kimbrell, Peter Di Mauro
(202) 547-9359

Patent Watch is a project of the International Center for Technology Assessment. CTA is a non-profit, bi-partisan organization committed to providing the public with full assessments and analyses of technological impacts on society, and is devoted to fully exploring the economic, ethical, social, environmental and political impacts that can result from the applications of technology or technological systems.

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