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Patent PoliticsLife Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe$
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Shobita Parthasarathy

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226437859

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226437996.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 13 June 2021

Commodification, Animal Dignity, and Patent-System Publics

Commodification, Animal Dignity, and Patent-System Publics

(p.81) 3 Commodification, Animal Dignity, and Patent-System Publics
Patent Politics

Shobita Parthasarathy

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 3 compares controversies over patenting genetically engineered animals in the United States and Europe. It argues that through these debates, the two jurisdictions developed different understandings of who could participate in the patent system, and how they could do so. In the United States, farmers, animal rights groups, and environmental organizations argued that animal patents would devalue life and change the relationship between humans and their environment. They tried to make their voices heard in Congress, the courts, and in the bureaucracy. In response, the patent system’s stakeholders and government officials reinforced what I call an “expertise barrier”: formal and informal rules that develop over the course of a policy domain’s history and are shaped by the jurisdiction’s political culture and ideology. In Europe, civil society groups challenged the European Patent Office itself, and focused on its decision to allow a patent on the Oncomouse, an animal genetically engineered to contract cancer. They used the opposition mechanism to make their deontological and utilitarian ethical arguments heard. Finally, the bureaucracy issued a much narrower patent on the Oncomouse. In doing so, it accepted a role for both civil society and ethics concerns in patent decisionmaking.

Keywords:   Oncomouse, genetically engineered animals, patent system, ethics, opposition mechanism, animal rights, expertise barrier, participation, political culture, bureaucracy

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