South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk fooled the world a decade ago with claims that he cloned human embryonic stem cells, but that has not stopped him from receiving a U.S. patent for the process.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted patent No. 8,647,872 to the disgraced scientist on Feb. 11.
The genetics researcher published an article in the journal "Science" in February 2004 that claimed he had cloned a human embryo and harvested stem cells from it.
Other scientists quickly cast doubt on the purported breakthrough, forcing Hwang to admit that he manipulated the results.
Hwang went from being a scientific hero to a villain in barely 20 months.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Hwang a patent as the science world marked the 10th anniversary of his fabrications.
Hwang has spent years trying to win recognition for his fabricated experiments, filing patent applications in more than 20 countries and succeeding in three nations.
Australia granted him a patent in 2008 and Canada followed suit in 2011.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not take into account the veracity of patents, working off the assumption that inventors are acting in good faith.
"The general presumptions run in favor of the inventor," University of Maryland law professor James Grimmelmann told The Washington Post. "The initial attitude is one of trust rather than distrust."
The courts assume that patents are valid until proven contrary, creating a situation in which someone sued by Hwang for violating his patent would have to prove that the experiments were fabrications.
Hwang went to work in the private sector after being forced to leave Seoul's National University.
The disgraced scientist announced plans in September 2012 to clone a mammoth species that went extinct 4,500 years ago and later proposed other projects aimed at proving that the results of his experiments were real. EFE