Natural Substances and Patentable Inventions

Published in: Science, v. 300, no. 5624, May 30, 2003, p. 1375-1376

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2002

by Linda J. Demaine, Aaron Xavier Fellmeth

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In this essay, the authors discuss the issues surrounding patenting products of nature. The central legal problem is how to distinguish a natural substance, for example, naturally occurring DNA, from a patentable invention. The authors suggest that the gbssubstantial transformation test (STT) used in customs law might be able to make this distinction. If adopted by Congress or the judiciary, the STT would maintain the patent law's integrity while resolving many of the economic and ethical policy concerns surrounding current patent practices, they note.

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