Asked in Patents (Intellectual Property)

Q: What bacteria/ organisms can be patented and what does this legally imply?

Is it possible to patent a living thing, that exists in nature, or is it only possible to patent a new organism created in a lab that otherwise wouldn't exist?

And does that mean no one is allowed to reproduce this organism without the permission of its owner, or do other rules apply? In other words, what is the benefit of owning an living thing?

Best regards

2 Lawyer Answers
Charles Edwin Runyan
Charles Edwin Runyan
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Avondale, AZ

A: Short answer: you must be the inventor to file and get a patent application and you must file within a reasonable amount of time after inventing it (you cannot have concealed the invention, blah, blah). So, if it exists in nature, your not the inventor.

Now, there are patents for purified versions of bacteria found in nature and there are patents for methods to purify those types of naturally occurring bacteria. As with all patents, you can prevent someone from making the products or conducting the methods that are specifically set out in the claims section of the patent. Since the claims are all likely to include something about the purity or the specific method, reproducing the organism probably wouldn't fall under the claims. But preparing a purified version after reproducing the organism very well could.

One use of a patent for purified bacteria is selling the purified sample to researchers, etc.

Take care.

Charles Edwin Runyan
Charles Edwin Runyan
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Avondale, AZ

A: Sorry for the typo. So, if it exists in nature, you're not the inventor.

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