Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Empirical analysis of major stem cell patent cases: the role of universities

A study of stem cell patent litigation sheds light on the current patent reform debate.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Litigated cases per year.


  1. Allison, J.R. et al. Geo. L.J. 92, 435–476 (2004).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Parchomovsky, G. & Wagner, R.P. U. Pa. L. Rev. 154, 1–77 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Heller, M. & Eisenberg R.S. Sci. 280, 698–701 (1998).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Azher, A. I. U. Pa. J. Int'l. Econ. L. 25, 383–421 (2004).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 110th Senate Judiciary Committee's Report on the Patent Reform Act of 2007.

  6. Federal Trade Commission. To Promote Innovation: The Proper Balance of Competition and Patent Law and Policy (FTC, 2003).

  7. Merrill, S. et al. (eds.) A Patent System for the 21st Century (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2004).

    Google Scholar 

  8. National Research Council. Committee on Intellectual Property Rights in Genomic and Protein Research and Innovation. Reaping the Benefits of Genomic and Protemic Research: Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation, and Public Health (National Academies Press, 2006).

  9. Madey v. Duke University, 307 F.3d 1351 (N.C. 2002).

  10. Whittemore v. Cutter, 29 F. Cas. 1120 1121 (C.C.D. Mass 1813).

  11. Cert. denied 123 S. Ct. 2639 (2003).

  12. Obama, B. Removing barriers to responsible scientific research involving human stem cells (The White House, 9 March, 2009)

  13. Bergman, K. & Graff, G.D. Nat. Biotechnol. 25, 419–424 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. US Patent 5,352,605.

  15. US Patent 4,940,835.

  16. Walsh, J.P., Arora, A. & Cohen, W. in Patents in the Knowledge-Based Economy, (eds. Cohen W. & Merrill, S.) 285–340 (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2003).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 35 USC 290, Notice of Patent Suits.


Download references


The authors would like to acknowledge M. Conway who performed the statistical analysis.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ann E Mills.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

A.E.M. and P.T. have been consultants for the Biotechnology Industry Organization on the issue that is the subject of this article.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Tables 1–7 (PDF 143 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mills, A., Tereskerz, P. Empirical analysis of major stem cell patent cases: the role of universities. Nat Biotechnol 28, 325–328 (2010).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing