Abstract

The recent judgment by the European Court of Justice in Brüstle ended the long-standing controversy concerning the patentability of inventions involving human embryonic stem cells in European patent law as harmonized by the Biotechnology Directive (Directive 98/44/EC). The Court of Justice, in line with EPO practice, confirmed that Article 6 of the Biotechnology Directive excluding the patentability of industrial or commercial uses of human embryos prevents patenting human embryonic stem cells. The judgment is open to criticism on account of its interpretation of the relevant ethical principles laid down in the Biotechnology Directive in an environment characterized by moral pluralism and by a multiplicity of legal fora with jurisdiction to interpret those principles.