Biomedical research

Germany - Judgment in case Oliver Brüstle v. Greenpeace e.V. / Embryo research

Judgement of the Court in case Oliver Brüstle v Greenpeace e.V., 18 October 2011, C-34/10 

A process which involves removal of a stem cell from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, entailing the destruction of that embryo, cannot be patented.

The use of human embryos for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and are useful to it is patentable, but their use for purposes of scientific research is not patentable.


A landmark decision by the European Court of Justice marks a step forward in legal recognition of the dignity of the human embryo. It settled a long-simmering legal battle by ruling that research involving the destruction of embryos cannot be patented.

Brüstle is a leading German stem cell scientist who holds a patent on neural cells produced from human embryonic stem cells.

The decision does not prevent scientist from experimenting on human embryos, but they will not be able to patent their work in ...

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