Patents on Life: Diamond v. Chakrabarty at 40

The Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and George Mason University’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP) invite you to a panel and discussion.

Patents on Life:
Diamond v. Chakrabarty at 40

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
1:00 – 2:30 PM (EDT)


In June 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Diamond v. Chakrabarty authorized the first patent on an intentionally genetically modified organism and concluded that patents may be granted for “anything under the sun that is made by man.” The decision contributed to the rise of the modern biotechnology industry and reshaped the agriculture industry. Less well known, the Plant Protection Act of 1930 had previously allowed intellectual property protection for selectively bred and cloned plants. On the 40th anniversary of Diamond v. Chakrabarty and the 90th anniversary of the Plant Protection Act, our expert panel will discuss breakthroughs in agricultural biotechnology and explore the impacts – economic and environmental – of these two major historical turning points. How did the rise of patented, GMO crops change farming? How did the Supreme Court’s decision change the patent system? How did developments in biotechnology reshape America’s innovation system?

We will take questions through the web portal following brief opening presentations and an initial discussion among the panelists.


1:00 – 2:30 PM Panel Discussion

  • Moderator: Arthur Daemmrich, Director, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History
  • Ananda M. Chakrabarty, inventor and distinguished professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine
  • Dan Charles, science writer, National Public Radio food and agriculture correspondent
  • Daniel Kevles, Stanley Woodward Professor Emeritus of History, History of Medicine & American Studies, Yale University
  • Jennie Schmidt, farmer, registered dietitian nutritionist, and blogger at The Foodie Farmer
  • Closing Remarks: Sean O’Connor, Executive Director & Senior Scholar, Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

Live captions will be available during the panel discussion.
For the best experience with captions, please install Webex Meetings.