Genentech’s (Human Growth Hormone) Patent: CA 1989

A patent claim for an important protein called Tissue Plasminogen Activator was objected to on the basis of the obviousness of the gene sequence.
Held: The court considered the categories of exclusion in the context of what was said to be a discovery – namely the gene sequence which caused TPA to be expressed. A discovery as such is not patentable as an invention under the Act, but when applied to a product or process which, in the language of the 1977 Act, is capable of industrial application, the matter stands differently. Section 1(2) did not depart from the established principles. A particular DNA sequence was an ‘existing fact of nature, newly discovered’. Table VI lay ‘at the heart of the invention’, bit it was not the invention.


Mustill LJ, Purchas LJ, Dillon LJ


[1989] RPC 147


Patents Act 1977 1(2)


England and Wales


Appeal fromGenentech’s (Human Growth Hormone) Patent ChD 1987
The applicant sought a patent for a hormone: ‘It is trite law that you cannot patent a discovery, but if on the basis of that discovery you can tell people how it can be usefully employed, then a patentable invention may result. This in my view . .

Cited by:

CitedKirin-Amgen Inc and others v Hoechst Marion Roussel Limited and others etc HL 21-Oct-2004
The claims arose in connection with the validity and alleged infringement of a European Patent on erythropoietin (‘EPO’).
Held: ‘Construction is objective in the sense that it is concerned with what a reasonable person to whom the utterance . .
CitedAerotel Ltd v Telco Holdings Ltd and others, In re Patent Application GB 0314464.9 in the name of Neal Macrossan Rev 1 CA 27-Oct-2006
In each case it was said that the requested patent concerned an invention consisting of a computer program, and was not therefore an invention and was unpatentable. In one case a patent had been revoked on being challenged, and in the other, the . .
CitedGales Application ChD 1990
Claim to Patent for Computer Chip was Valid
The applicant had implemented an algorithm for solving square roots problems by embodying it within a computer chip. He appealed against refusal of the patent by the Patents Office.
Held: The appeal succeeded.
Aldous J said: ‘I have come . .
CitedGale’s Application CA 1991
The applicant had devised a new and better algorithm for finding square roots. Having embodied the method in a read only chip which could be installed within a computer which could then apply the algorithm, he sought to patent it.
Held: . .
CitedKapur v Comptroller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks PatC 10-Apr-2008
The applicant sought patents for systems of document management. The applications had been rejected as being for computer programs as such.
Held: The exclusion from protection created by the section was to be construed narrowly. In the absence . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Intellectual Property

Updated: 28 May 2022; Ref: scu.218803