Policy Biotechnology

The Patenting of DNA

Science  01 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5364, pp. 689-690
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5364.689

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John J. Doll There has been considerable controversy in the biotechnology community regarding the patenting of DNA sequence. In this Policy Forum, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office presents its view that, as in other fields of technology, DNA-related inventions may be patentable if they meet all the conditions for patentability, including, for example, utility, novelty, nonobviousness, written description and enablement. Issuing of a patent on a fragment of a gene does not preclude the future patenting of the full-length gene but the patent to the gene fragment may dominate a later patent to the full-length gene. The granting of comprehensive claims to downstream DNA products such as full-length genes or to ultimate proteins is unlikely in the absence of a significant amount of information about the gene and protein being disclosed in the patent application.