The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated three patents covering human stem cells that were issued to the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. This is good news for anyone who hopes to develop treatments for illnesses and injuries based on human stem cells, because the three patents have been blamed for slowing research in the highly visible field of regenerative medicine.
The PTO ruled the discovery of embryonic stem cells from primates--including humans--was not worthy of patent protection because scientists had used similar methods to isolate embryonic stem cells from mice and other mammals, and described the cells' potential for producing medical therapies.
It's too early to say for sure what affect this is going to have, because these results are still preliminary. WARF's attorneys have two months to respond to the concerns; if they don't succeed they can take the case to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. If the patents are not reinstated, the foundation can file a claim in court.
When I hear more about the results of the legal proceedings, I'll post them here.