Copyrightability of Recombinant DNA Sequences
64 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2013 Last revised: 17 Jul 2016
Date Written: 1989
The recent emergence and rapid growth of biotechnology as a commercial industry has raised serious questions concerning the role of patent law as the industry's dominant form of intellectual property protection. Several commentators, drawing on an analogy to computer software protection, have suggested copyright law as an alternative method of protecting recombinant DNA innovation. This article reviews these arguments in light of recent court decisions and scholarly commentary concerning copyright of computer software.
The article argues that copyright law is not sacrosanct, but rather represents a particular scope of proprietary interests that may be used to accommodate the needs of new technologies such as biotechnology. The article asserts, however, that the decision to apply copyright protection to such a technology should be based on policy rather than on analogy. The article reviews the basic characteristics ofboth the science of molecular biology and of the biotechnology industry, and, by contrasting these characteristics to those of the software industry, concludes that, as a matter of policy, copyright is not the most appropriate form of intellectual property protection for biotechnology.
Keywords: copyright, DNA, patent, intellectual property, biotechnology, innovation, sui generis
JEL Classification: O31, O32, O33, O34, L52, L65
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation