Different legal conceptions are nowadays challenged by bioethical dilemmas. This also includes patent law. In the Directive 98/44/EC on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions the European Parliament and the Council have considered uses of human embryos for industrial or commercial purposes unpatentable (Article 6(2)(c)). Interpretation of the Directive has aroused controversy, particularly in the context of use of stem cells obtained from a human embryo at the blastocyst stage, which entails the destruction of that embryo. On 18th October 2011 the European Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) gave a preliminary ruling providing an interpretation of the notion of human embrio. In its judgment the Court held that a ‘human embryo’ is any human ovum after fertilisation, any non-fertilised human ovum into which the cell nucleus from a mature human cell has been transplanted and any non-fertilised human ovum whose division and further development have been stimulated by parthenogenesis constitute. The judgment resolves all disputes relating to interpretation of Article 6(2)(c) of the Directive. Considering the main argument used by the Court, i.e. reference to the principle of human dignity, one should expect that the significance and effects of the judgment will be far-reaching.