Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

In an effort to balance static and dynamic efficiency in the production and use of knowledge, societies institute intellectual property policies. In the United States, the patent system is a well-established mechanism to provide inventors with time-limited protection of new technologies in exchange for disclosure of information about their inventions. Emerging biotechnology, specifically the filing of patents on gene sequences, raises serious questions about whether the patent system is appropriately weighing societal costs and benefits in its grants of intellectual property protection. Gene sequences represent a hybrid case between discrete inventions and more general pieces of information that are useful for many, potentially very different, purposes. This information content in genes makes it possible for a patent on a gene to cover a wide range of possible technological applications and, as a result, be of unknown breadth when issued. This analysis explores the potential effect of these characteristics on future innovation in biotechnology.

Reprinted with permission from Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Volume 22, Number 1, 2003, pp 5-25. Copyright © 2003 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Originally published in: Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Vol.22, No. 1, pp. 5-25, 2003.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.