Greenpeace considers that the German patent office was wrong to issue a patent number DE 19756864 to Oliver Brüstle, and the Germans have turned to the European Court of Justice for a ruling concerning Art. 6 of Directive 98/44/EC which relates to the legal protection of biotechnological inventions.
There are ethical issues concerning patentability of medicine and medical research and granting a monopoly on a treatment, which are generally bypassed with Swiss type claims. The issue here relates to public morals concerns with destruction of fertilized human egg cells, or when an embryo is considered a life.
One cannot get patents for genetic modification of human beings or over human life. The question is what is a human? I think in this issue, the halachic position is actually more lenient than that of the German Law. It is way outside my area of competence though.
In December, we are hosting an event with German Patent Attorney Ulrich Storz and with US Patent Attorney Greg Kirsch to look at whether software, business methods, genes and stem cells should be patentable. No answers, lots of questions.