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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BIOLOGY HAS EMERGED as one of the most important technology platforms of the 21st century. With the arrival of the gene-editing technology Crispr, biology will soon converge with everyday medicine, big agriculture, and artificial intelligence to influence the future of...

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The debate over a fish shows that scientists can be too quick to dismiss the public’s concerns.

“Keep Frankenfish off my Dish!” a protester’s sign read. Another, adorned with six red hearts, suggested that “real people love real salmon.”...

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The University of California has filed an appeal to overturn a February decision by a US patent tribunal that dealt UC...

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As with many new fields, synthetic biology—which incorporates disparate disciplines like engineering, computer science, biotechnology, and molecular biology—is hard to...

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