In a couple unrelated patent filings, Kyoto University has announced a patent for reprogramming differentiated cells to an embryonic stem-cell like state, and Geron announced that it has a patent on using cardiomyocytes created from human embryonic stem cells as medicines or drug-screening technology.
The Geron patent covers cells whether they will be used as medicines directly or to test new medicines. I’m not sure yet how this will effect the use of ES cells for drug screening, but a growing number of companies are already hoping to use cells for such purposes, and they probably were not planning on getting a license from Geron first. (See New tools for drug screening)
Geron holds an exclusive license for commercializing certain hES cell lines for various therapies from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and both entities have been accused of styming research, a charge they deny. (See A patent challenge for human embryonic stem cell research)
Also, Kyoto University has obtained a domestic patent for producing induced pluripotent stem cells, ES-like cells that can be made without embryos, according to JapanToday. The iPS IP (intellectual property) field promises to stay complicated, since two different methods of making human iPS cells were published on the same day, and another company, iZumi, which is backed by California venture capital is also in the space. (See Japan ramps up patent effort to keep iPS lead)