Stuart Newman and Jeremy Rifkin have submitted a patent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the technique to produce a "humouse" - a human-mouse hybrid. The technique would involve injecting the embryo of one species with the cells from an embryo of the other species, resulting in a critter with cells from both species spread throughout, working cooperatively.
Don't get too excited, furries - their purpose is not to actually create a humouse, but to force limits on the patenting of human life. I honestly can't say whether this would be a good thing or a bad thing for us - on one hand, if furries are to be created, I wouldn't want them to be created as products or slaves, but without the ability to profit, companies are likely to not expend the resources to create them at all!
U.S. Patent law does not require you to produce a product in order to patent the method for creating it, and indeed Newman and Rifkin do not ever intend on creating a humouse. The purpose of sumbitting the patent is to provoke the patent board to clarify the limits on what organisms can be patented/trademarked. "There really is no boundary on what you can do with human life. There's no natural stopping point," says Newman. "That troubles me. I think it will ultimately lead to genetically engineered human beings made for sale."
Historically, patent law has rejected patents for human embryos under the 13th amendment ban of slavery. However, non-human life forms such as microbes have been patented, as have animals with human genes. Several human/animal gene and cell combinations have been submitted for patent.
Full story at the The L.A. Times , here.