chapter  6
20 Pages

rKnowledge: The Spatial Diff usion and Adoption of rDNA Methods

ByMaryann P. Feldman, Dieter F. Kogler, David L. Rigby

In December 1980, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a patent entitled Process for Producing Biologically Functional Chimeras (number 4237224). The patent covered the recombinant DNA (rDNA) technique developed by Dr Stanley Cohen of Stanford University and Dr Herbert Boyer of the University of California – San Francisco. In later evaluation of the Cohen-Boyer patent, the USPTO introduced a new category (435/69.1) to its classification system, a relatively rare occurrence signalling the birth of a new type of technology. While most technological innovation is incremental, certain discoveries provide fundamental breakthroughs that revolutionize industrial activity and provide a platform for increased productivity throughout the economy. The rDNA patent represented this kind of transformative general purpose technology laying the foundations for the growth of the modern biotechnology industry (FELDMAN and YOON, 2012).