Australia mulls patent on South Korea stem cell data

Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:04am EDT
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By Michael Perry

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's patent office said on Wednesday it had found no reason to reject a patent for disputed technology on cloning human embryos based on falsified research by disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk.

Hwang made international headlines in 2004 when he was found to have faked key parts of a report that his team had used somatic cell nuclear transfer to clone human embryos.

Australia's intellectual property office (IP Australia) said it was considering the patent request by Seoul National University based on Hwang's falsified research. Hwang is listed as one of 18 inventors in the patent application.

IP Australia said the decision to grant a patent was based on whether the technology was new or involved an inventive step, not whether an invention performed as claims.

"During examination, IP Australia considered that information relating to the falsification of research results involving Dr Hwang were related to issues of utility (usefulness) and not matter that could be objected to in examination," David Johnson, Acting Commissioner of Patents, said in a statement.

"There is no statutory basis to refuse to grant a patent on the basis that the scientific data in a patent application is a misrepresentation or fraudulently obtained. However, it is a ground for revocation by the court," he said.

The patent application passed the examination stage on June 12 and the deadline for any objections expired on September 12. No objections were filed during the opposition period.

However, IP Australia said it had not yet granted a patent.   Continued...