Research in the Shadow of DNA Patents

77 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2005

See all articles by Andrew Chin

Andrew Chin

University of North Carolina School of Law

Date Written: March 17, 2005


In recent years, the Federal Circuit and the Patent Office have characterized the legal doctrines governing the patentability of DNA molecules as essentially settled. This Article argues that the factual premises underlying those doctrines are increasingly being undermined by ongoing developments in biotechnology. Specifically, it may soon be possible to demonstrate that the patenting of DNA molecules retards the identification and sequencing of so many other useful DNA molecules that patent-driven DNA research is a self-defeating enterprise. To this end, this Article provides quantitative evidence of the preclusive effects of DNA patenting on specific laboratory procedures in genetic research. In drawing its methodologies and motivation from genetic engineering and bioinformatics, this Article establishes a new interdisciplinary space wherein the technological consequences of DNA patenting can be rigorously described and studied.

Keywords: patents, DNA, biotechnology, genetic engineering

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Chin, Andrew, Research in the Shadow of DNA Patents (March 17, 2005). UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-15. Available at SSRN: or

Andrew Chin (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall
100 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-4116 (Phone)

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