By William Lesser
Following the USA Patent Office's statement in 1987 that it considers animals "to be patentable subject material in the scope" of patent legislation, there was huge world wide debate in this topic. This paintings includes the lawsuits of the Animal Patents Symposium held at Cornell college, united states, on December 5-6, 1988, prepared by means of the editor of this paintings.
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Extra info for Animal Patents: The Legal, Economic and Social Issues
As regards the patentability of products of animal biotechnology, the draft directive ensures the patentability of living matter in general and clarifies the point that any exclusion of animal varieties shall not extend to the patenting of parts of animal varieties. g. ) are allowable (Article 3(1)), as are patents for uses of animal varieties and processes for the production thereof (Article 4). Definitions clarifying expressions such as "microbiological process" or "essentially biological process" are of great value.
The claim in suit was to a method of examining the intact body by magnetic resonance imaging, a method that could hardly have any other purpose than in diagnosis. In a remarkable decision, the Board of Appeal held that the only diagnostic methods to be excluded are those whose results make it immediately possible to decide on a particular medical treatment. So if the diagnostic conclusion is not part of the claim the exclusion does not apply! The real significance of the case is the positive ruling that an exclusion clause must be narrowly interpreted.
This trend is likely to spread. These official or informal statements, however, have been made primarily in connection with plants; there has been more reticence with regard to animals. Nevertheless, the WIPO document mentioned above refers to the UK position in the following terms (World Intellectual Property Organization, 1988a): The exclusion of animal and plant varieties is applied only to varieties which are characterised by purely biological features. The Ciba-Geigy case must be an important precedent for its animal counterpart.