Biological patent

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A biological patent is a patent relating to an invention or discovery in biology.

Some types of biological patents are considered controversial by those who feel that natural occurrences are not invented and thus should not be patentable. This is especially true if the biological matter being patented can be found in humans, such as sequences of DNA. Advocates who speak against biological patents suggest that the techniques and processes associated with the discovery could be patentable but not the actual biological matter itself. For example, an advocate against biological patents would suggest that a gene associated with cancer should not be patented, but the test used to detect the gene could be.

On the other end of the spectrum many scientists/researchers are against patenting biological information if it comes at the cost of research. Many scientists are coming up against patent thickets, which are masses of information that they must obtain permission (and often pay large fees to utilize) before they can ever work with the information.[citation needed]

Whether or not patents can be validly obtained for certain parts of the DNA of an organism depends on the patent law. Modern patent law is becoming stricter about what sort of biological information can be patented. Prior to tightening, companies and organizations like the University of California were patenting whole genomes.[1]


  1. Stix, Gary. “Owning The Stuff Of Life.” Scientific America, Feb. 2006, Volume 294, Issue 2.

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