Patents and the Human Genome Project
biotechnology, patents, gene sequences, National Institutions of Health
As nearly everyone in biotechnology knows by now, the U.S. Government's application for a patent on a large number of newly discovered gene sequences was rejected in September 1992 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Among the reasons for the rejection of the National Institutes of Health's application was the fact that the discoverers had no idea of each of the particular sequence's function--they could not demonstrate the utility of their so-called invention. The implications of the NIH attempt to patent these incompletely understood gene sequences are troubling. If the biotech industry demands patent protection for even non-inventive uses, that can only mean that the free market somehow does not offer enough incentives on its own.
Davis, Michael Henry, "Patents and the Human Genome Project" (1993). Law Faculty Articles and Essays. 750.