EU's top court opens door to some stem cell patents

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An organism incapable of developing into a human being is not a human embryo and may be patented, the European Union's top court said on Thursday, opening the door to certain stem cell patents in the European Union.

The court made this judgement following a case brought by US company International Stem Cell Corporation in Britain over whether it could patent processes covering the use of human egg cells.

"The mere fact that a parthenogenetically-activated human ovum commences a process of development is not sufficient for it to be regarded as a 'human embryo'," the European Court of Justice said.

The court said it left it to British judges to determine whether the organisms used by ISCO met these criteria.