Patent gives exclusive rights to the inventor for a period of time granted by state or national government in trade for public disclosure of their novel inventions. Patents are granted to the inventions which are novel, non obvious, useful to the society, and invention should be described sufficiently so that the expert in that particular field can use it.

United States gives patent for a period of 20years from the date of filing. In biotechnology patents have been first applied as provisional patents. The provisional patent filing should contain proper de script ion of the invention and also the names of the inventors. This gives up to one year time to file for actual patent. The grace period is also not counted on granting actual 20years of patent.

First Patent on Living Organism:

Till 1980 patents are not granted on inventing living organism, as these things are considered as creation of nature. But in 1980 bacteria with foreign gene showed the capacity to digest hydrocarbons and the inventor Chakrobarthy claimed that these genetically modified bacteria can be used in cleaning oil spills. Then at last US Supreme Court granted patent to this novel form of bacteria as these bacteria are not found naturally in nature.

Patents on Genes and Proteins

Genes and Gene Fragments:

If a new sequence of DNA or gene is identified and isolated with its product and knowing its use in nature will give exclusive right to the inventor for 20 years to investigate on that particular gene and gene products.

Single Nucleotide Polymorphism:

Single Nucleotide Polymorphism or SNP are found in DNA by mere change in one of the bases. These SNP have major impact on hoe humans respond to disease caused by micro-organisms such as bacteria, virus, toxic chemicals, and also to therapies. Therefore these SNPs play a major role in developing drugs and also in medical diagnosis. Therefore identification and isolation of Novel SNPs with discovering its biological function can be patented.


Cell is mainly composed of proteins. These proteins are involved in signalling, cell structure formation and also help in communication between the cells. Protein are the product of gene expression, therefore they play an important role in drug discovery. Identification, isolation of novel proteins with known structure and biological function can be patented.

Stem Cell:

Human embryonic stem cell, cell lines which are constructed using cloning method to study developmental biology or to study drug interaction can also be patented.

Benefits of Gene Patenting:

1) Researches get recognition from the society.
2) Monetary grant gained from patenting will help researchers to continue their research work.
3) Patenting prohibits using or selling the new invention without authorized license from the patent holder.
4) Patenting also attracts investors as it provides monopoly to the investor for a period of time. That is for 20 years in case of US patent.
5) All researchers are given access to the new invention.
6) Duplication of same invention is prevented
7) Research work is forced to do in unexplored areas of science.

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