Patents & Other IP

Patents, along with laws and court decisions regarding intellectual property, serve both to constrain and catalyze the development, marketing, and use of human biotechnologies. Two developments in 1980 dramatically influenced the development of biotechnology in general: the U.S. Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act, which reformed how inventions developed from federally-funded research are managed, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Diamond v. Chakrabarty that living things, including genes, could be patented. More recently, controversies and court cases about intellectual property have included lawsuits by individuals and families contesting ownership of biological tissues and genetic information; challenges by indigenous communities trying to protect traditional knowledge from technological exploitation; disputes about which researchers will be awarded patents on CRISPR gene editing technology; and the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, which ruled that merely isolating genes that are found in nature does not make them patentable.

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Bringing genetics into medicine leads to more accuracy, better diagnosis and personalised treatment – but not for all. Carrie Arnold meets families for whom gene testing has led only to unanswered questions.

AnneMarie Ciccarella, a fast-talking 57-year-old brunette with a more...

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In recent years, two new genetic technologies have started a scientific and medical revolution. One, relatively well known, is the ability to easily decode the information in our genes. The other, which is only dimly understood by the general public,...

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In a new book, University of North Carolina, Charlotte anthropologist Jonathan Marks says that racism in science is alive and...

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The ruckus over the CRISPR gene-editing system hides a dark reality: its high cost may make it unaffordable and questions...

A hammer is shown in the middle, with several nails attached to a wooden board. The nails are dented and bent.

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A person suited in bioharzard gear, examines a sample of corn in a field.

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Portrait photo of Jennifer Doudna casually dressed and smiling in front of shaded trees.

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