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Harvard’s European Patent Upheld

November 7, 2001

MUNICH, Germany (AP) _ European officials upheld Harvard University’s patent on a mouse genetically altered so that it predictably develops cancer, throwing out a complaint by Greenpeace and other groups.

The pan-European patent, granted in 1992, protects the ``method of producing transgenic animals.″ Following a two-day hearing, Bernd Isert, head of the European Patent Office’s appeals department, upheld the patent Wednesday but said the wording should limit it to rodents.

In its current form, the patent is too wide and oversteps ethical limits, he said.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to the Harvard mouse in 1988, the first transgenic animal patent ever granted. The mouse was intended to ease research and treatment of tumors in humans.

Environmental and animal rights groups, along with church organizations and individuals, sought to have the patent reversed, arguing that it violated the dignity of living beings.

Greenpeace and a number of other plaintiffs said they would appeal Wednesday’s ruling.

The Munich-based European Patent Office, established in 1973, awards ``European patents″ valid across the 15-nation European Union.

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