Human gene sequences can be conceptualized in three ways: as a molecular fragment, as genetic information, and as a product of cultural heritage. This Comment uses the BRCA litigation as an organizing principle to discuss the importance of understanding human genes as something more than just biological material. Part II addresses the background of the BRCA gene-patent case and the legal arguments against patenting gene sequences. Part III discusses the ethical objections to gene patents by focusing on common-heritage rationales. Further, Part III addresses the inadequacy of the Common Heritage Doctrine as applied to human gene sequences. Part IV highlights the international and domestic protections afforded to cultural heritage. Part V argues that because human genetic variation results from complex cultural and evolutionary processes, gene sequences should be protected from appropriation as intangible cultural heritage. Finally, Part VI offers some concluding thoughts.
Adriane Scola, Uncommon Genes, Unpatentable Subject Matter, 34 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 909 (2011).