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The Ethics of ProtocellsMoral and Social Implications of Creating Life in the Laboratory$
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Mark A. Bedau and Emily C. Parke

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012621

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012621.001.0001

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Protocell Patents: Property Between Modularity and Emergence

Protocell Patents: Property Between Modularity and Emergence

(p.165) 10 Protocell Patents: Property Between Modularity and Emergence
The Ethics of Protocells

Alain Pottage

The MIT Press

This chapter determines some distinctive aspects of protocell patents, and explores how protocell patents disturb the political and institutional foundations of the current intellectual property practices. It shows that the Mycoplasma laboratorium patent application looks like an instrument of bad modularity, or an example of precisely the kind of patenting strategy that the open-source biology movement seeks to mitigate or overcome. This chapter suggests that the hierarchies of synthetic biology are complicated by a legal technique that makes the modularity and granularity of parts dependent on the institutional negotiations through which recursive trajectories of innovation are patterned.

Keywords:   protocell patents, Mycoplasma laboratorium, modularity, synthetic biology, granularity, property practices

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