Patent power in biomedical innovation: Technology governance in biomodifying technologies

Edison Bicudo*, Michael Morrison, Phoebe Li, Alex Faulkner, Andrew Webster, Miranda Mourby, Jane Kaye

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biomedical innovation is often rewarded by exclusive proprietary rights such as patents. In the case of gene editing, induced pluripotent stem cells, and three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting (here described as biomodifying technologies), the limitations of the patent system come into stark relief, generating both technical and political doubts. Generally, political and technological limitations are supposed to be solved with so-called good governance, based on some principles. We focus on three of such governance principles (participation, accountability, and transparency) to show how they have been weakened, instead of strengthened, by the current patent system. We demonstrate that although patent applications are submitted by both public and private players, the latter have imposed a growing dominance in gene editing, induced pluripotent stem cells, and 3D bioprinting, disseminating their aggressive and exclusive strategies. As a consequence, a logic of experimentality tends to prevail where the three fundamental governance principles fail to be enacted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-494
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of World Intellectual Property
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. The Journal of World Intellectual Property published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funding Information:
This study is supported by the Leverhulme Trust under grant number 68387. The agency did not have any involvement in the conceptualisation and design of this publication.


  • 3D bioprinting
  • experimentality
  • gene editing
  • iPSCs
  • patents
  • technology governance


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