The BioBricks Foundation:BPA

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  • The BioBrick™ Public Agreement is a proposed legal framework.
  • The purpose of the BPA is to enable the free exchange and use of standard biological parts.
  • The current BPA version is Version 1A, DRAFT.
  • The BPA is not yet intended for use by contributors or users of standard biological parts.
  • Your feedback is requested via email to "endy" or "grewal" at biobricks dot org.
  • Download the current version of the BPA.
    • BioBrick™ Public Agreement Version 1A, DRAFT (URL, c/o MIT DSpace)
      • Direct link (PDF, 114kb)
  • Download a presentation introducing the BioBrick™ Public Agreement.
    • Download slide deck (PDF, 1.1mb)


  1. How will this work practically? Will it be like iTunes?
    • Contributors will contribute materials via the BioBrick™ Contributor Agreement. The BioBricks Foundation (BBF) will provide this service for free via the web. Third parties could (theoretically) also provide such service. The Contributor Agreements themselves will be made publicly available for use and redistribution. Users will agree to the BioBrick™ User Agreement via a “clickthrough” form that will be freely available via the web (c/o the BBF). The BBF will not maintain records of User Agreements, but will provide a free service to validate User Agreements as needed.
  2. What is being contributed?
    • An irrevocable promise not to assert any property rights held by the Contributor over Users of the contributed Materials.
  3. Will all existing BioBrick™ parts be covered by the BPA?
    • The BioBrick™ Public Agreement will not apply retroactively to all BioBrick™ standard biological parts. Existing or new parts must be contributed under the BPA to be covered.
  4. Can only BioBrick™ parts be covered by the BPA?
    • The BPA is optimized for use with, and best supports, contributions of use for genetic material that has been refined and standardized in accordance with one or more open BioBrick™ Standards.
  5. Is institutional sign-off required?
    • Sometimes, for example, if your terms of employment would require such sign-off.
  6. When would this impact me?
    • It depends. For example, if you are a researcher who would like to contribute something, sign up now as one of the lead BPA launch teams. A bioproducts company? Build awareness now so that as parts become available R&D, business, and legal teams are knowledgeable. A tools company? Develop strategy now. A next generation synthetic biology startup? Integrate thinking into soul of company strategy and structure.
  7. Is the BPA “viral”?
    • No, not as currently drafted. Users of BPA-contributed parts are not required to “give back” any other genetic components that they might combine with BPA-contributed parts.
  8. Can I patent something that uses BPA-contributed parts?
    • Yes, as currently drafted. Novel materials and applications produced using BPA-contributed parts may be considered for protection via conventional property rights.
  9. Why won’t a patent “troll” file patents on all possible novel uses of BPA-contributed parts?
    • In theory, nothing. In practice, many things. As one example, the costs of such filings would be formidable. As a second example, contributors and others can readily disclose at the time of contribution known and imaginable uses of so-contributed parts, making obvious many future uses. As a third example, the community of BioBrick™ parts users continues to grow (e.g., a highschool student could make and contribute a new part) and professionally-staffed public-benefit production facilities for making and contributing high-quality free-to-use parts are getting started.
  10. Will the BioBricks Foundation own the parts that I contribute?
    • No. You decide who owns or can use your parts. By contributing a part under the BPA you are enabling others who agree to the BPA User Agreement to freely use the parts that you contribute.
  11. Why does the BioBricks Foundation use a trademark right?
    • The BBF hold trademark on uses of the word “biobrick” in order to protect its free-to-use and open technical standards and legal framework. As a government recognized not-for-profit organization the BBF has no intention of profiting from these public benefit services.
  12. What if I have a different question?
    • Send your question by email to the BPA discussion list (legal at biobricks dot org).