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Saturday, March 30, 2002

Answering Will (resurrected from 3/29) I owe Will Cox of the Peanut Gallery an answer to a question about the gene patent issues I blogged awhile back. Will asked if the patent is on the gene itself (the gene qua gene), or on the process of isolating the gene. The answer is, both things are uniquely patentable in their own right. "Utility patents" may be granted to someone who invents a new and useful process or discovers new and useful "compositions of matters" (or both). Thus, according to the USPTO's guidelines, a gene patent is possible once you identify "the compound" - the gene itself - and a use for the compound. If someone then develops "new an non-obvious methods of using the patented compound" - the gene - they can apply for a separate process patent for that use, notwithstanding that someone already holds the patent for the gene.

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