29 Nov WARF responds to rejection of European patent claims
Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation issued the following statement following the rejection of its stem cell patent claims before the European Patent Office.
“The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is disappointed in the decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) rejecting the claims of WARF’s European Patent Application No. 96903521.1. WARF currently is considering various options in response to this decision.
“WARF emphasizes that this ruling by the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal was based on European Union patent rules that are peculiar to Europe. There is no counterpart in United States patent law and therefore the EPO decision does not in any way affect WARF’s patent rights in the United States.
“We have more than 40 issued patents directed to stem cells in 12 countries with more than 200 cases pending all over the world,” states WARF General Counsel Michael Falk. “This decision represents a ruling in just one of these cases and in just one jurisdiction on grounds that do not apply in other jurisdictions.”
According to WARF, the opinion of the Enlarged Board of Appeal focused on the issue of the patentability of cells made using an embryo. “The Board made no determination of the patentability of claims based on any of the traditional criteria used to assess patentability – usefulness, novelty, and non-obviousness. In fact, the opinion makes clear that its decision does not address the question of patentability in general of inventions relating to human stem cell cultures.”