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Australia: Human embryo precursor found patentable

Recently, the Australian Patent Office has allowed a patent application for an unfertilised ovum in an application directed to the parthenogenic activation of human oocytes for production of human stem cells.

Under our Patents Act, human beings and biological processes for their generation are specifically excluded from patentability.

In International Stem Cell Corporation [2016] APO 52, while the Patent Office Hearing Officer emphasised that a fertilised ovum and subsequent manifestations are excluded from patentability, the Officer found that as the precursor blastocyst did not have the potential of itself to lead to the birth of a human, it could not claim the status of a human being and was therefore patentable.

This represents a significant reading down of the sections of our Patents Act directed to exclusion of biological processes for human generation, opening up a broad scope for seeking protection in this area.

Peter Treloar

Shelston IPLevel 21, 60 Margaret StreetSydney NSW 2000, AustraliaTel: +61 2 9777 1111Fax: +61 2 9241

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