Europe's biotech trade group, EuropaBio, responded with dismay this week to news that the European Commission has no intention of taking action to further harmonize the way that different EU states implement a directive on patenting of human gene sequences or stem cells.

In a report released Monday, the commission discussed developments in the patent field that relate to the EU Biotechnology Patents Directive of 1998. Since 2000, all EU member states except Italy, Luxembourg, Latvia, and Lithuania have implemented the directive into national law.

However, while most countries have implemented the directive in a similar way, France and Germany–two countries with big biotech sectors–have interpreted the patent protection offered on gene sequences in a more restricted manner. Those two countries have limited the scope of patent protection for human gene sequences to the specific use disclosed in the patent application.

In the report, the commission acknowledges variations in...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!