The nature and types of biotechnology patents are somewhat different from patents that apply to other fields of research and innovation. Because biotechnology frequently deals with living organisms, patenting processes and inventions in this field is more complicated than in other fields. However, the overall process of patenting and types of patents available in biotechnology remains essentially the same as other patent types and processes.

What Is a Patent?

Patents are a part of intellectual property law that work to help protect the innovative processes across all different fields. A patent is published for the public's inspection, so many times patents are used in research projects. Sometimes individuals or companies can purchase rights to a patent if they want to use or produce the protected invention.

If a person invents an original product or process, they can gain a kind of monopoly right over that invention to prevent others from making or using it without their permission. This creates incentive and reward for ingenuity.

Patents don't last forever, and they must be granted by the State. If a person wants to protect their invention, they'll need to fill out a patent application and go through the process of obtaining a patent through the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). If a patent is granted, the details of the invention will be disclosed to the public, but it will also be protected from patent infringement.

What Is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is a branch of science that focuses on developing different techniques for applying various biological or natural organisms and processes to products, creating products, or materials for use in certain industries and the realm of medicine. Basically, biotechnology tries to find ways to use living organisms practically in industry.

Inventions in biotechnology, whether new processes or discoveries have a right to intellectual property protection. Various groups, especially religious groups have raised controversy over the patenting of biotechnological inventions because they involve living things. Many of the inventions and processes used in this field include the DNA manipulation. Certain organizations view this kind of messing with the natural order of things as unethical.

The Nature of Biotechnology Patents

Patent law has been around for almost 500 years, but patents in the field of biotechnology only began surfacing at the end of the 19th century, as scientific and industrial advancements were taking flight. Biotechnology patents have become somewhat of a hot topic over the years, gaining high profiles in some cases. Due to the delicate and complicated nature of this particular field of study, the patenting process is more involved than in other fields.

Many believe that patents are what encourage growth and innovation in a particular field, so they encourage more and more inventors to patent their discoveries. Much is learned through the patenting process, especially because it leads to the publishing of such discoveries so that other scientists can learn more. As certain groups attempt to discourage certain biotechnology patents, others argue that they are a vital part of the thriving economy and intellectual advancements.

Different countries vary on their laws regarding the patenting of biotechnology. Depending on the country in which a scientist hopes to patent their invention, they will face specific standards for that country. This is especially important for those looking to patent their invention in multiple countries. Just because a patent was granted in the US, doesn't mean every other country would also grant a patent for the same invention.

Types of Biotechnology Patents

In most every field of research, there are two basic types of patents:

  • Product patents.
  • Process patents.

This also applies to biotechnology. An inventor can protect a certain product they've created or a new process they've made. Because of the nature of biotechnology, there are some rules regarding what can and cannot be patented. Simply put, inventions are patentable but discoveries aren't

Discoveries in biotechnology are nature things or processes that essentially belong to nature, so they cannot be "owned" by one person through a patent. However, if you come up with a specific product or process through the use of natural, living things, it's worth looking into a patent for it. This can lead to some complicated cases when trying to patent a biotechnology invention.

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