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3. DNA as Universal Property

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the fundamental objection against patentability which is not rooted in the realm of the patent laws, but is suggested by the solutions developed in the past to address analogous races to grab the bounties of the human heritage. It also examines whether the laws indeed provide for a test to delineate the natural genome from the artificial, by examining whether DNA sequences constitute patentable subject matter. The lesson learned from Grotius is that a res omnium communes is capable of private exploitation through the industry and labor of each man. One of the justifications offered by Grotius is that allowing competition may serve the interests of humanity best, subject to two conditions. First, any such appropriation may not impair its common use. Second, necessity, for example, famine, may "render common again things formerly owned".

Keywords: DNA sequences; Grotius; natural genome; res omnium communes



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