The Supreme Court’s decision inChakrabartyalso paved the way for a series of decisions in which the scope of materials eligible for patent protection was greatly expanded into nontraditional areas. Some of the more exotic and unusual areas of patent protection include patents for man-made living creatures, software, business methods, surgical operations and athletic moves such as swinging a golf club.

The 1980Chakrabartydecision indicated that genetically engineered organisms were patentable. This ruling by the courts opened the door for biotechnology to become big business. Companies could now protect products based on genetically altered organisms.

The next issue that was addressed by the USPTO with respect to the patenting of life forms was the patentability of genetically manipulated animals. In 1988, a patent was allowed for the first genetically altered animal – a mouse that was very susceptible to cancer. This mouse showed promise in testing potential carcinogens.

Microorganisms, plants and animals have now all received U.S. patenting status. In Europe, the patenting of "man-made" life forms is viewed in much the same manner as in the United States.

If anyone is interested in patents that might be examples of a specific protection area, reply to this blog, and we will locate some examples for your patent research.