Patenting Discourses: Enclosure and Expert Systems
Patents act as stabilising points in these expert discourses, legitimating knowledge claims in terms of property relations and property in terms of creative knowledge. This chapter attempts to expand this critical claim by analysing the dominant discourse of patenting and situating it in terms of the expert systems that sustain patenting and allow the translation of an enclosure of property into an apparently rational system of bureaucratic regulation. The dominant discourse of patent law is a Promethian discourse. Patenting genes isolated from farmers' seed is primarily an enclosure of this accumulated knowledge. The argument that genetic patents follow logically from mechanical patents has been facilitated by the mechanical metaphors of genetics that have been deployed in the expert system of molecular biology. A critical discourse argues plausibly that the current attempts to extend patenting to life forms are the enclosure of public or communal knowledge within a set of expert systems.