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Patent PoliticsLife Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe$
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Shobita Parthasarathy

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226437859

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226437996.001.0001

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Forging New Patent Politics Through the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debates

Forging New Patent Politics Through the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debates

Chapter:
(p.117) 4 Forging New Patent Politics Through the Human Embryonic Stem Cell Debates
Source:
Patent Politics
Author(s):

Shobita Parthasarathy

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226437996.003.0005

This chapter focuses on patents covering human embryonic stem cells in the United States and Europe. In both places, human embryonic stem cell research is very controversial; anti-abortion activists argue that the human embryo destruction required to produce human embryonic stem cells is morally unacceptable. Given this context, it is easy to assume that the two jurisdictions might handle these patents the same way, or at least that their discussions over the matter would be similar. To the contrary. This chapter demonstrates that by the 2000s, when the human embryonic stem cell debates began, the US and European patent systems had rather different political environments. They were focused on different kinds of concerns and included different experts and stakeholders. The debates were also framed differently. In the United States, the main issue was whether human embryonic stem cell patents stifled innovation, challenging the central logic of the patent system. Academic scientists became the main stakeholders. But in Europe, life, its commodification, and human dignity were still the main concerns. And civil society groups such as No Patents on Life and Greenpeace had become central, stable watchdogs in the European patent system.

Keywords:   human embryonic stem cells, human embryos, patent system, political environment, morality, framing, innovation, commodification, scientists, human dignity

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