Ownership and patenting of genes has been debated for many years with the main concern being that patents which limit the use of basic genetic information will inhibit research and its clinical application. In addition, organisations such as the World Health Organisation have specific concerns about the appropriateness of intellectual property (IP) regimes for developing countries and whether sufficient attention is being paid to the health problems prevalent in developing countries.
In a landmark decision in June 2013, in the case of the Association for Molecular Pathology et al. v Myriad Genetics, Inc. et al the US Supreme Court determined that DNA in its natural form cannot be patented.
In a number of the genomics initiatives underway globally there are stated objectives to ensure that intellectual property is used to maximise global health benefits and that there is equitable sharing of benefits to the communities that participate.
Resources on Intellectual Property
Gordon J. The Impact of Myriad and Mayo: Will Advancements in the Biological Sciences Be Spurred or Disincentivized? (Or Was Biotech Patenting Not Complicated Enough?). Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. 2015;5(5):a020917. http://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a020917.