Attack of the Overly Broad Patents

An interesting press release noting a patent on neural stem cell cultures:

StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq: STEM) today announced that the ompany has been issued U.S. patent 6,777,233 for work done at the Company overing composition of matter claims for the human neural stem cell.

"This patent further strengthens StemCells' leading position in the human neural stem cell field," said Martin McGlynn, President & CEO of StemCells Inc. "The patent covers human neural stem cell cultures derived from any source, including embryonic as well as fetal, neonatal and adult issue."

Leaving aside my own opposition to state-imposed monopolies of any sort, this looks like a very broad patent. We could look on the bright side and see future patent-related litigation / extortion as a step up from the current political debate over criminalizing this research. At least patents and patent battles mean that the science is moving towards producing commercial therapies.

UPDATE: phosita adds the following after some helpful comments:

Thus, the patent appears to only cover a cell culture capable of enhancing the growth or reproduction of multipotent stem cells and not stem cells in general.

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