Inventions involving human embryonic stem cells (hESC) have unprecedented potential to improve human life through discovery of new drugs and treatment of incurable neurodegenerative diseases, but at the same time, the use of human embryos in research gives rise to contrasting ethical, moral, and religious views on the patentability of such inventions. Whether and to what extent patent offices should take these views into account is an open question. Although the “ordre public” and “morality” clause in patent law may help us find an answer, neither the legislator nor courts have clarified the meaning of these vague terms. Judicial interpretation has sometimes increased their ambiguity and raised legal uncertainty for the patentability of hESC inventions. This situation may be desirable in some cases, but not in others where the principles of the legal system as a whole come into play.

This research will identify patentable hESC inventions in Europe and in Japan by examining the “ordre public” and “morality”clause in the broader legal framework and emphasizing the interconnectedness of national legal systems in a global market both in legal and economic terms.


Each year the OIPRC hosts a number of leading academics from around the world as part of its Invited Speaker Series. These events typically run from 5:15-6:45pm on Thursday evenings at St. Peter’s College; if the venue or time is different, it will be noted on the Events calendar.  The Speaker Series consists of a presentation of about 45 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with the assembled group of academic staff, students (both undergraduate and graduate), researchers, and interested members of the public.  Discussion is informal and includes participants from several disciplines, with a wide range of prior knowledge.

Convenors: Dev Gangjee and Robert Pitkethly

Refreshments and snacks are served at the conclusion of the discussion.  All are welcome.