Omni Legal Group Publications | “The Gene Wars”

“The Gene Wars: Science, the Law and the Human Genome”
-Loyola Law Annual Tech Review
By

Is there a place for gene patents in the patent act? Since before the ruling in Diamond v. Chakrabarty this issue has stirred much controversy in the legal and scientific communities. Although the scope of patentable subject matter has been defined, whether gene patents fall within the precise limits of the Chakrabarty doctrine remains unclear.

Gene patents have increasingly faced scrutiny from people who often times don’t understand genetics or the complexities of the patent process. A lack of understanding has led them to make emotive and one-sided arguments. In his novels, Michael Crichton warns of dangerous mutated bacteria and genetically engineered dinosaurs. Similarly, in 1831, Mary Shelley warned of maniacal grave robbing scientists who would use their gifted minds to bring the dead to life. Before his death, Crichton entered the political arena and tried to convince Congress to ban genetic sequence patenting. There were others like him who argued that government should interfere with genetic research.

This article will attempt to inspire congressional action by providing empirical and statistical data showing how gene patents have benefitted the scientific community and by addressing the most prevalent arguments of gene patent opponents. This article is distinguished because it contains original source material from interviews with professors in the biological sciences. In writing this article, I had the unique opportunity to return to UCLA and obtain first-hand information on the impact that gene patents are having on university research. I was able to take what the professors taught me and propose reforms that will strengthen both the US patent system and the biotech sector.

Please click here to see pdf.

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