How Did the Gene Become a Chemical Compound? The Ontology of the Gene and the Patenting of DNA

Jane Calvert, Pierre-Benoit Joly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The ability to patent is bounded by a set of conditions that define what is patentable and what is not. In the 1980s, the problem of the patentability of genes was solved by the use of an analogy between genes and chemical compounds. In this article we analyze the process of the reduction of the gene to a chemical compound, and show how this analogy made the practice of gene patenting routine long before it came to public attention. When we did eventually see public controversies surrounding gene patenting in the 1990s, the chemical analogy allowed patent offices in the US and Europe to ‘close down’ these debates by presenting the issues as merely technical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-177
JournalSocial Science Information
Volume50
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • gene
  • ontology
  • patent
  • reductionism
  • soft law
  • brevet

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'How Did the Gene Become a Chemical Compound? The Ontology of the Gene and the Patenting of DNA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this