In Diamond v. Chakrabarty, a case involving a genetically engineered bacterium, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an artificial life form can be pat­ ented

Principal personages: Warren E. Burger (1907-), the

Court ruled by a five-to-four margin that biological organisms could be patented and protected under federal law. The case involved Ananda M. Chakra­ barty, who, with General Electric Company (GE) and Upjohn Company, wanted to obtain patents for microorganisms that these companies had manufac­ tured and processed in a way not found naturally. By January of 1980, Upjohn had dropped out of the case and Chakrabarty had left GE for a post on the faculty of the University of Illinois. In June, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the U.S. Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, which had ruled in favor of GE.