Diamond v. Chakrabarty Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Respondent microbiologist filed patent claims for human-made, genetically engineered bacterium that was capable of breaking down multiple components of crude oil. The US Court of Customs and Patent Appeals allowed the claim. Petitioner, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, appealed the judgment. The court affirmed the judgment that allowed respondent microbiologist’s patent claims. The language of the patent statute covered respondent’s invention of a living, genetically engineered micro-organism.




“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.”

Case Information

Citation: 447 US 303 (1980)
Argued: Mar 17, 1980
Decided: Jun 16, 1980
Case Brief: 1980