Patenting Animals and Other Living Organisms

Can You Patent Your Cat?

This is undoubtedly one of the questions that frequently arise when intellectual property practitioners discuss their experiences with biotechnology researchers. In general, research suggests that it is impossible to patent a living being. This preconception is most likely founded on more or less rational considerations such as a lack of innovation (how can you patent something that already occurs in nature?) or ethical concerns.

What is a biological Patent?

A biological patent is one that covers a biological invention. Patents were created in the past to ensure that inventors received a financial return and other benefits from the use of their innovations.

Can You Patent Your Pet or Any Other Animal?

The answer to the question of whether a living creature can be patented is dependent on two key factors: the sort of living being and the territory in which protection is sought.

What is an Animal Patent and How Does It Work?

Patents can be granted for organisms that aren’t found in nature. This isn’t to suggest that you can’t patent your mixed-breed dog or cat, or a better dairy cow or pig developed through years of careful breeding. It is not possible to patent a plant or animal that can be found in the wild. Animals that can be patented are those that have been genetically modified by humans and so do not exist in the wild. Because their genomes have been altered with genes or DNA from other animals or humans, these species are frequently referred to as “transgenic” animals. Scientists modify these creatures to make them exhibit desirable features for research or experiments.

Animal Patents: Who Issues Them?

Animal patenting is prohibited in several nations. When the Harvard OncoMouse patent reached the Canadian Supreme Court in 2002, the court determined that higher life forms, such as mammals, are not patentable. Belarus, Brazil, China, Denmark, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, and Thailand are among the countries that have joined Canada in banning animal patents. Animal patents are granted by the European Patent Office, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan, in addition to the United States.

Animal Patents: The Great Debate

The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS), the Alternatives Research & Development Foundation (ARDF), and PatentWatch are among the organisations that oppose animal patents. “Animal patents give an incentive to damage animals for financial benefit,” these organisations claim. They say that manipulating these animals results in their misery and exploitation, particularly for animals bred to have a flaw or ailment that increases their study worth. Opponents cite two patents as examples of exploitation: (1) a patent for creating rabbits with eye mutations that are utilised for research on human eyes, and (2) a patent for producing beagles with compromised immune systems that are used for research on lung infections.

The Past

Abstract ideas, natural phenomena, and natural laws are not patentable subject matter, according to the Supreme Court. In the end, the question is whether a living entity should be classified as a natural phenomenon. The majority of people believe that only inanimate items can be patented by the government, although this is not true.

The role of The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS)

The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) thinks that patenting sentient creatures is an unethical and inappropriate use of the patent system.


Patenting represents an erroneous sense of human control over animal existence, as well as the legitimacy of profiting off others’ potential pain, misery, or plain inability to choose one’s own faith. As a result, it’s been suggested that producing transgenic animals, which is encouraged by patenting, may result in more animal suffering (because of the inherent ambiguity of the techniques), as opposed to how animals are handled in general through selective breeding and crossbreeding.




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Copperpod IP

Copperpod is one of world's leading intellectual property research and technology consulting firms.