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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
Facts of the Case 

After genetically engineering a bacterium capable of breaking down crude oil, Ananda Chakrabarty sought to patent his creation under Title 35 U.S.C. Section 101, providing patents for people who invent or discover "any" new and useful "manufacture" or "composition of matter." On appeal from an application rejection by a patent examiner the Patent Office Board of Appeals affirmed, stating that living things are not patentable under Section 101. When this decision was reversed by the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, Diamond appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.


Is the creation of a live, human-made organism patentable under Title 35 U.S.C. Section 101?

Decision: 5 votes for Chakrabarty, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 35 U.S.C. 101

Yes. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court explained that while natural laws, physical phenomena, abstract ideas, or newly discovered minerals are not patentable, a live artificially-engineered microorganism is. The creation of a bacterium that is not found anywhere in nature, constitutes a patentable "manufacture" or "composition of matter" under Section 101. Moreover, the bacterium's man-made ability to break down crude oil makes it very useful.

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DIAMOND v. CHAKRABARTY. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 29 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1979/1979_79_136>.
DIAMOND v. CHAKRABARTY, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1979/1979_79_136 (last visited August 29, 2015).
"DIAMOND v. CHAKRABARTY," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 29, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1979/1979_79_136.