Patent Labyrinth: Non-human Flowchart

How are new inventions classified? How do they make their way through the patent system? This interactive mural depicts the variety of categories used by the International Patent System and challenges visitors to discover pathways to making a new invention a reality.

Categorizing non-humans entities is a challenge. For the last two centuries, with the origin of intellectual property laws and regulations, the ways to classify an artifact or process as novel, original, and useful are in flux. We can see how those categories neglect the systemic and interactive nature of inventions and how they tend to transpose living beings into the realm of property (like genomes, seeds, and plants). This entire enterprise produces tension between the living and the non-living through a dizzying array of arcane questions. Thee Patent Labyrinth flowchart explores and contests those categorizations and asks the public to discover and critique how inventions become patentable and thus ready for market. The mural will spark public debate and will be supported by an installation guide, video instruction, and sample inventions that users can classify using the flowchart.