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Patent Guide

Synthetic biology has enormous promise as a burgeoning field of technology. Biofuels, drug production, and pollutant consumption are just a few of the applications researchers are studying in the field. As we have been considering in our project, the sky is not even the limit for programmed cells.

However, as with any disruptive field of technology, this hype goes hand-in-hand with the behind-the-scenes difficulty of assimilating the technology into patent law. Despite this difficulty, significant inventions have begun to crop up in the field. Companies such as Sangamo Biosciences have been awarded significant foundational patents in areas that could affect the research of iGEMers.

As a team, we ran into a few patents in the area of biomining, and we discovered the need for an iGEM-specific guide to patent law. Many other teams have probably come across a perfect candidate gene for a part only to find a patent in the way. How many of those teams would know what to do next? That is where a short-yet-comprehensible guide to patent law would come in handy. Specifically, we built a document that discusses what a patent is, what the specific requirements for patenting an invention are, how to read a patent, how to avoid infringement, and finally how to search for a patent.

Apart from being a rare and highly useful skill in general, the ability to understand a patented invention should be integral to any future in iGEM or Synthetic Biology. We have made the document freely available to all through the wiki, because we believe in the open-source format of iGEM. A level playing field will push Synthetic Biology to new heights.

[ An iGEM-Specific Guide to U.S. Intellectual Property and Patent Law]