Gene Patent Law and Legal Definition

Gene patent refers to patent granted for a specific gene sequence and its chemical composition. A gene patent is also a patent issued for a specific DNA sequence of a specific organism. It is common for companies to obtain patents for genes that are important to medicine and agriculture. Gene patents are a part of the biological patents.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) regulates the patenting of genes and gene products. Genes and their products can be involved in many diseases and therefore gene patents have the potential to influence human health and welfare. Gene patents were created to encourage future research and enhance the public sharing of innovations and information. The patenting of gene related innovations is currently legal in the U.S. and other countries. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303 (U.S. 1980) that genetically engineered bacterium that eats oil could be patented because it did not occur naturally in nature.

Gene patents are also essential for obtaining capital investment in the development and commercialization of technological breakthroughs.[Ass'n for Molecular Pathology v. United States PTO, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35418 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 2, 2010)]