The article explains marine biodiversity from the standpoint of international law and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS 1994).
Currently there are dozens of patent applications associated with genes of marine origin outside countries’ jurisdiction. The claims come from developed countries, i.e. the United States, Germany, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Norway. All countries, including landlocked ones, are free to conduct scientific exploration of the sea. The key areas of application of marine genetic resources include pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and general industry.
Despite some controversy patent protection over natural world has long history. In 1873 Louis Pasteur obtained a patent for yeast, and adrenalin and insulin were patented in early 20th century. In the case of Diamond v. Chakrabarty (1980) the United States Supreme Court held that a live, human made microorganism is patentable subject matter.