Advances in biological manipulation of cells and stem cell technology continue to test the law on what can be patented.
A recent decision of the Australian Patent Office makes clear that an invention that includes a step on the pathway to the production of a potential human being, even if the end result is not a human being, is not patentable. Claims to the use of cellular structures that may mimic the embryonic process but cannot result in a human being are patentable.
'Human beings, and the biological processes for their generation' is one of the few legislated exclusions from patentability under Australian law. In one of only a handful of decisions of its kind, the Patent Office recently considered the scope of this exclusion in International Stem Cell Corporation  APO 52.