Extreme Monopoly

Venter's Team Makes Vast Patent Grab on Synthetic Genomes

ETC Group exposed the Venter Institute’s controversial patent applications on the world’s first human-made living organism built entirely from synthetic DNA (dubbed “Synthia” by ETC Group). Newly published patent claims reveal an even bigger grab for ownership of synthetic life.


A suite of patent applications lodged by J. Craig Venter and his colleagues claims exclusive monopoly on a wide swath of synthetic biology and demonstrate a not-so-subtle move to position Venter’s company, Synthetic Genomics, Inc., as the ‘microbesoft’ of synthetic life. Find out about “The Men & Money Behind Synthia.”

This time, Venter’s shop isn’t claiming a single microbe (Synthia) made from synthetic DNA – the new claims are broadly framed to seek exclusive monopoly on ALL synthetic genomes. Venter’s latest bid for extreme monopoly has drawn strong condemnation – but not much surprise – from civil society and from scientists in the field of synthetic biology.

 “It appears that Craig Venter’s lawyers have constructed a legal rats’ nest of monopoly claims that may entangle the entire field of synthetic biology,” explains Jim Thomas of ETC Group. “These patent applications need to be looked at very closely indeed. For example, the list includes proprietary claims on basic research steps such as adding synthetic DNA to a living organism – which pretty much sums up the current field of synthetic biology.”

 

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