The method for isolating human embryonic stem cells was pioneered at the University of Wisconsin by James Thomson in 1998. Since this pivotal achievement, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) has obtained three patents for both the techniques and the cells themselves. Because of these patents, anyone desiring to perform research involving the cells or techniques must pay licensing fees, and if any marketable products are developed, royalties would also be required. In 2007, the U.S Patent and Trademark Office revoked the patents. This ruling is still being challenged by WARF in the U.S. federal court system, and the impact of their ruling greatly affects embryonic stem cell research in the United States as well as across the world.
Charles Reed, lawyer and partner at Kile, Goekjian, Reed & McManus, will discuss the recent rejection of the patent for human embryonic stem cells and the method of their creation. This event is sponsored by the Baker Institute's Science and Technology Policy Program. It is the first discussion from the International Stem Cell Policy Program, newly endowed by the State of Qatar and the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani.