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Can you patent all organic life ?

A:Expert Answer

A similar question regarding living organism patents was recently answered by Hans Sauer, Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property for the Biotechnology Industry Organization. His response is available here:

A passage from Sauer’s response reads: “To be clear, the USPTO does not award patents on living organisms (and other things) that were merely discovered in nature. The Supreme Court has said that if a new plant were discovered in the wild it would not be patentable, even if it had never before been known by man. On the other hand, a bacterium that was engineered by man to do something it cannot naturally do ­like digest crude oil ­ is patentable under the same conditions that apply to any other kind of invention. And, of course, the USPTO does not award patents on living organisms ­ even if they were engineered by man ­ unless they are really new, unobvious, and practically useful just like any other invention. The patent law also specifically forbids patents that would encompass a human being (not that anyone would seriously want to apply for such a patent ­ but nonetheless, Congress felt it was worth making the point).”

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