Just like toasters, clocks, and other inanimate object inventions, animals are being patented in the United States. Private companies, universities, and individual “bioentrepreneurs,” have been granted over 470 patents on animals such as monkeys, mice, dogs, cats, sheep, and chimpanzees.
Animals can be, but do not have to be, genetically manipulated to be patented. Other examples of animal patents include those on animals who have been exposed to bacteria to infect them, surgically altered, or given a vaccine.
That’s bizarre, and raises some ethical questions.
Canada’s patent laws don’t allow this type of thing according to a ruling from Canada’s Federal Court System:
Several important features possessed by animals distinguish them from both micro-organisms and plants and remove them even further from being considered a ‘composition of matter’ or a ‘manufacture.’ In particular, the capacity to display emotion and complexity of reaction and to direct behaviour in a manner that is not predictable as stimulus and response, is unique to animal forms of life.