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Q80. Transgenic Animals

Q80. Transgenic Animals
 Have there been any decisions on what are “inventions liable to contravene public order, morality or public health”? In particular, is this an obstacle to the patenting of transgenic animals?

A80. At present, the provision regarding public order, morality or public health is not considered to create any problem or question for patentability of transgenic animals in Japan.
 There have been some decisions ruled by the Tokyo High Court. For example, a banknote forging apparatus, a vest usable for smuggling gold bars, an opium smoking tool, a man’s energy enhancing device, etc. were considered liable to contravene public order and morality. An invention relating to a bingo game machine was considered patentable although the judge recognized that it would be usable for gambling. A specific medicine for cancer and Streptomycin were both considered not liable to contravene public health in spite of the fact that they cause harmful but relievable after-effects when they are administered in large quantities.
 A plant breed and an improvement of a breed of animal are patentable in Japan as long as they have novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability, and further they are properly disclosed in the applications so that anyone skilled in the art may easily carry out the inventions. In this connection, many patents regarding an animal itself have been granted in Japan. A Harvard mouse was also granted. No issue was raised in connection with public order, morality or public health.