Osmat Azzam Jefferson – For the last thirty years, patenting of biological sequences has been widely practiced, highly contentious
Osmat Azzam Jefferson – For the last thirty years, patenting of biological sequences has been widely practiced, highly contentious and extremely non-transparent. This year, the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that naturally occurring human DNA sequences are not patentable subject matter, but that modified forms of these sequences (e.g.cDNA) are potentially patentable. It is reasonable that this ruling will extend beyond the human genes to cover all animal, plant and microbial DNA and possibly proteins. In this seminar, I will review the state of sequence-based patent disclosures and practices by patent offices around the world, and reflect on the requirements needed to translate the Supreme Court’s directives to practice in the US and other relevant jurisdictions. I will also describe our work at disaggregating the concept of ‘gene patenting’ into more nuanced understandings, including analysing several thousand granted US patents to explore how sequences appear in these patents, and what rights are sought and granted. I present the open source PatSeq (PatentSequence) Toolkit, a new facility within the “Lens” project that contributes to a general understanding of these requirements. I will demonstrate how these tools, and the underlying infrastructure make patent sequence information publicly accessible, commentable, navigable, shareable and embeddable by anyone to provide evidence-based decision making for biological innovation and to guide policy.