The article explains marine biodiversity from the standpoint of
international law and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS 1994).
Currently there are dozens of patent applications associated with genes
of marine origin outside countries’ jurisdiction. The claims come from
developed countries, i.e. the United States, Germany, Japan, France, the
United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and
Norway. All countries, including landlocked ones, are free to conduct
scientific exploration of the sea. The key areas of application of
marine genetic resources include pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and general
Despite some controversy patent protection over natural world has long
history. In 1873 Louis Pasteur obtained a patent for yeast, and
adrenalin and insulin were patented in early 20th century. In the case
of Diamond v. Chakrabarty (1980) the United States Supreme Court held
that a live, human made microorganism is patentable subject matter.