Making Dollars out of DNA: The First Major Patent in Biotechnology and the Commercialization of Molecular Biology, 1974-1980

  title={Making Dollars out of DNA: The First Major Patent in Biotechnology and the Commercialization of Molecular Biology, 1974-1980},
  author={Sally Smith. Hughes},
  pages={541 - 575}
In 1973-1974 Stanley N. Cohen of Stanford and Herbert W. Boyer of the University of California, San Francisco, developed a laboratory process for joining and replicating DNA from different species. In 1974 Stanford and UC applied for a patent on the recombinant DNA process; the U.S. Patent Office granted it in 1980. This essay describes how the patenting procedure was shaped by the concurrent recombinant DNA controversy, tension over the commercialization of academic biology, governmental… 

Cancer, Viruses, and Mass Migration: Paul Berg’s Venture into Eukaryotic Biology and the Advent of Recombinant DNA Research and Technology, 1967–1980

  • Doogab Yi
  • Biology
    Journal of the history of biology
  • 2008
This paper investigates the development of recombinant DNA technology in its full scientific context by focusing on Stanford biochemist Berg’s research on the genetic regulation of higher organisms, and helps to revise the canonized history of genetic engineering’'s origins that emerged during the patenting of Cohen–Boyer's recombinantDNA cloning procedures.

The Patenting of Biological Materials in the United States: A State of Policy Confusion

This paper discusses the genesis of human DNA patents and the legal confusion and ramifications that ensued. Beginning in the mid-1970s with policymakers and lawmakers in the United States,

The commercialization of molecular biology: Walter Gilbert and the Biogen startup

Walter Gilbert’s case adds a distinctive point of reference to studies of academic entrepreneurship and points to internal contradictions and conceptual ambiguities in neo-institutional accounts of research privatization.

The scientific commons in the marketplace: the industrialization of biomedical materials at the New England Enzyme Center, 1963–1980

This paper investigates the industrialization of biomedical materials at the New England Enzyme Center (NEEC) from its establishment as a federally supported biochemical resource center in 1964

Beyond Recombinant Technology: Synthetic Biology and Patentable Subject Matter

The man who wanted to patent the human genome, Craig Venter, made history again, and has built a synthetic bacterium from the ground up—in a laboratory.

On Slicing an Obvious Salami Thinly: Science, Patent Case Law, and the Fate of the Early Biotech Sector in the Making of EPO

This essay reconstructs in previously unavailable detail the 1980s race to clone and market what would be biotechnology's most important product to date, erythropoietin or EPO. The scientific contest

The Insights of Radical Science in the CRISPR Gene-Editing Era: A History of Science for the People and the Cambridge Recombinant DNA Controversy

ABSTRACT In the wake of controversy over human embryonic gene-editing with CRISPR/Cas9 technology, scientists have looked repeatedly to the 1975 Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA (rDNA) as a

How did the gene become a chemical compound? The ontology of the gene and the patenting of DNA

This article analyzes the process of the reduction of the gene to a chemical compound, and shows how this analogy made the practice of gene patenting routine long before it came to public attention.

Patents in genomics and human genetics.

Whole-genome sequencing will confront uncertainty about infringing granted patents, but jurisprudence trends away from upholding the broadest and potentially most troublesome patent claims.

Epigenetic Patents: A Stressful Environment for an Emerging Science.

Epigenetic research has suggested that environmental conditions can cause chemical modifications to DNA or histones to alter the health of humans and their offspring—even in a transgenerational manner—apart from changing the nucleic acid sequences of their genes.



Komberg Papers, SC 359, Box 3, Folder: "Genetic

  • 1977

The three patents expired as a unit on 2 Dec. 1997, having earned over $250 million in royalties and license fees: Floyd Grolle, former licensing officer of the Cohen-Boyer patents

  • Nature

OTL Archives. The Cohen-Boyer patents were never litigated

  • OTL Archives
  • 1980

Patenting the Results of Genetic Engineering Research: An Overview

  • The legal status of the 1980 patent and the two pending patents was repeatedly debated. See, particularly

In an effort to encourage early licensing, Stanford offered credit to firms taking out licenses by 15 Dec. 1981 of five times the initial payment of $20

  • OTL Archives
  • 1980

On efforts to encourage collaborations see Lois S. Peters and Herbert I. Fusfield

  • University-Industry Research Relationships: Selected Studies
  • 1982

By one account, 114 patent applications involving living organisms were held up in the patent office awaiting the Supreme Court's decision in Chakrabarty: Krimsky

  • Profit of Scientific Discovery

Reimers set up a $200,000 fund from royalties for use if litigation ensued: KRP

  • 1981

UC OTT Archives; for Helling's views see Joel Gurin

  • Science
  • 1980

Media coverage of Stanford's announcement of the licensing plan focused on its moneymaking potential and its importance for the production of new biological products

  • Washington Post