DNA Music

Intellectual Property and the Law of Unintended Consequences


  • Graham Dutfield
  • Uma Suthersanen


Patent regulation provides numerous examples of how policy decisions have consequences that run counter to what was intended. One reason that unintended consequences ensue arises from the fact that when powerful and organised business interests consider that a new reform inhibits their economic appropriation opportunities, they seek to make the perceived inadequacies of the law less harmful to their interests. They may achieve this through alternative legal means or by the adoption of new technologies. For certain reasons, regulating DNA patenting is especially vulnerable to unintended consequences. For businesses, one possible alternative to patents is to encode DNA sequences as music and use copyright and trade secrecy rather than patents. Of course, such alternative means of protection can have their own unintended consequences. If we are right in predicting that if molecular biology patenting is suppressed more and more, the legal and technological measures that lock up information will become increasingly attractive to industry, then one should tread very cautiously when reforming the patent system in this field. *Key words*: intellectual property, DNA patenting, biotechnology


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Research Papers



How to Cite

Dutfield, G. and Suthersanen, U. (2005) “DNA Music: Intellectual Property and the Law of Unintended Consequences”, Science & Technology Studies, 18(1), pp. 5–29. doi: 10.23987/sts.55185.