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Diamond v. Chakrabarty
Diamond v. Chakrabarty, genetically modified micro-organisms can be patented., was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with whether
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Genetic engineer Ananda Mohan Chakrabarty, working for General Electric, had developed a bacterium (derived from the Pseudomonas genus) capable of breaking down crude oil, which he proposed to use in treating oil spills. He requested a patent for the bacterium in the United States but was turned down by a patent examiner, because the law dictated that living things were not patentable.
The Patent Office Board of Appeals agreed with the original decision; however, the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals overturned the case in Chakrabarty's favor, writing that "the fact that micro-organisms are alive is without legal significance for purposes of the patent law." Sidney A. Diamond, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court case was argued on March 17, 1980 and decided on June 16, 1980.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court ruled in favor of Chakrabarty, and upheld the patent, holding that:
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger wrote the decision, and was joined by Potter Stewart, Harry Blackmun, William Rehnquist, and John Paul Stevens.
Burger wrote that the question before the court was a narrow one - the interpretation of 35 U.S.C. 101, which says:
He wrote that:
Regarding the scope of the original legislation, he wrote:
Finding that Congress had intended patentable subject matter to "include anything under the sun that is made by man," he concluded that:
The dissenting opinion was written by William J. Brennan, who was joined by Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, and Lewis Franklin Powell.
Brennan's dissent focused on the argument that there is evidence in the legislative record that Congress did not intend living organisms to be patented.
Brennan noted that "we do not confront a complete legislative vacuum", and commented on the 1930 Plant Patent Act and 1970 Plant Variety Protection Act, which explicitly allow patents for plants in certain cases:
And with regard to the specifics of the 1970 act:
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Diamond_v._Chakrabarty". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|