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• A microorganism is any living organism like bacteria, protozoa, or even fungi that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Microorganisms can only be viewed through a microscope and are extremely important to plant life, plant health, and soil composition.

• Microorganism are, as the name implies, microscopic organisms. They are living things that are too tiny to see with the naked eye. A microorganism can perform all the characteristics that any living thing can perform. It can move, get nutrients from the environment, maintain homeostasis, and evolve.

• A microorganism or microbe is an organism that is so small that it is microscopic (invisible to the naked eye).


The Government of India permitted patenting of microorganisms in India under the Patents (Second Amendment) Bill, 2002, which was passed by the Parliament on 14 May 2002. The Government has so far granted very few patents for microorganisms, mainly on directives from courts. With the law permitting patenting of microorganisms, several private sector pharmaceutical companies and research institutions have filed applications for patenting microorganisms including fungi, bacteria and viruses. But there is still much debate on the advisability of allowing patenting of microorganisms in India. While the existing provisions in the patents bill permit patenting of certain life forms in line with the Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, there is still sufficient controversy regarding the term ‘microorganism’, which has not been clearly defined. This article discusses the evolution of the patenting systems in relation to microorganisms. The article also explores the feasibility of offering statutory protection to microorganisms that are genetically altered with significant human intervention on harmonized global patent systems and also elaborating on the need for a well-accepted definition of the term ‘microorganism’.


Microorganisms came into being on earth over a period of about 1.2 to 1.5 billion years. Fossil microbes have been found in rocks 3.3 to 3.5 billion years old. Since then, microorganisms have had the principal task of recycling organic matter in the environment. As such they are absolutely essential to the health of the earth. Without them, the earth would be a gigantic, permanent waste dump. Microorganisms are responsible for recycling the huge masses of organic matter synthesized by plants as life on earth evolved. Furthermore, microorganisms—the cyanobacteria or their DNA in the chloroplasts in plant cells—were the source of most of the free oxygen in the early atmosphere. They also oxidize ammonia (the universal end product of protein metabolism) to nitrate, which is the only nitrogen source used by plants and is therefore essential for production of our plant foods. Microorganisms also are responsible for cellulose hydrolysis in the rumens (first stomach compartments) of cattle, facilitating the production of animal protein for human consumption. And, in recent times, microorganisms have been the sources of antibiotics that have enabled the cure of numerous diseases. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) are prokaryotes (that is, their cells have no distinct nucleus). They are very independent nutritionally since they can perform photosynthesis using chlorophyll.Thus, they can synthesize sugars for energy from carbon dioxide using the sun's radiation. They also release oxygen. They can respire aerobically and can fix nitrogen, generating amino acids and protein. They require only water, nitrogen gas, oxygen, co2, some minerals, and sunlight. The evidence is that they were on earth 3.2 billion years ago. The cyanobacteria are among the earliest microorganisms and very important even today.

TRIPS mainly aimed at excluding subject matter relating to medical methods, or those contrary to public order and morality, and subject matter covering plants and animals, and essentially biological processes from being patentable subject matter Green algae are eukaryotes (that is, their cells have a distinct nucleus). They evolved about one billion years ago. They contain chlorophylls a and b, which enable them to convert carbon dioxide, through sunlight radiation, to sugars, and to polymerize sugars to starches, hemicelluloses, and celluloses—some of our most important sources of food energy. Green algae are still major sources of food in the oceans. Green algae were likely the life forms that evolved into plants, which first lived primarily in the oceans but moved to the land about 450 million years ago, about the same time as the amphibians and first land animals evolved. It is believed that the first mammals evolved about 150 million years later, along with insects and reptiles, which were dominant. Another 150 million years later, dinosaurs and the first birds evolved, along with the first flowering plants. For several billion years, bacteria, algae, and other microorganisms served as food for other microbes and for higher animals as they evolved. When plants evolved in the oceans and then subsequently moved to land, they became the major sources of food for other forms of life, including microorganisms, animals, and eventually humans.


• the taxonomic description

• morphological characteristics such as shape, size, stainability and motility

• colony characteristics such as colour, shape, size, swarming and any distinguishing features in appearance such as shininess

• metabolic characteristics such as substrate requirements, products, by-products and isozyme characteristics

• genetic characterisation of any known genes relevant to the use or characterisation of the organism or the inventive concept.

• depositing a sample of the micro-organism under the Budapest Treaty provisions.


The landmark decision of the U.S Supreme Court in the case of Diamond v chkrabarty flood gates were open for patenting of microorganisms not just in united states but as a subsequent after effect, in various legal regimes around the globe. Section 27 of TRIPS recognize ‘microorganisms’ as a patentable subject matter and thus incompliance of the same many nations has now allowed patenting of microorganisms through their domestic patent laws.

In Dimminaco AG v Controller of Patents and design, the applicant, Dimminaco AG had applied for a process patent involving the manufacturer of a live vaccine for protecting poultry against infectious bursitis. However, the application was rejected by the Indian patent office stating that the definitions of ‘inventions’ in the Patent Act did not include a “living organism” thus any processpatent involving the manufacturer of a live vaccine for protecting poultry against infectious bursits.