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Bioengineered bugs, drugs and contentious issues in patenting

by Ananda M. Chakrabarty
Bioengineered Bugs ()

Abstract

Bioengineered bugs, as is the scope of this journal, have great potential in various practical applications. A corollary to bringing useful products to the market is that such products need protection from copying by other people or businesses. Such government-sponsored protections are legally enforced through a patent, copyright or trademark/trade secret system commonly known as intellectual property rights. A condition for obtaining a patent is that the invention must not be disclosed to public either through seminars, informal public disclosures or publications in journals, although in the United States, there is a one year grace period that is allowed to obtain a patent after public disclosure. This article describes my personal experience in obtaining a patent in 1980 on a genetically manipulated bacterium designed for oil spill cleanup. This patent application went through a series of court cases that finally ended up in the Supreme Court of the United States. I also mention a similar contentious legal issue that is on the horizon and that the readers of Bioengineered Bugs should be aware of. Finally, I have taken the opportunity to describe my current efforts to bring to the market some unique potential multi-disease-targeting candidate drugs from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and gonococci/meningococci that, if found non-toxic and efficacious in humans, will revolutionize the drug industry. To ensure their marketability, we are trying to develop a patent portfolio that will ensure that they will be legally protected and such protections will be broad-based and enforceable.

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