The scientist at the centre of the development of a controversial 'synthetic lifeform' has become the target of a legal challenge from the Catholic church after the application for a patent on the organism was approved by the US Patent Office (USPO).
Dr Craig Venter received the summons earlier today via winged courier, and an accompanying letter from God's solicitor, Pope Benedict XVI, describes the deity as 'narky', 'highly likely to smite' and recommends that Dr Venter 'settle before the case hits court'.
The legal challenge stems from claims made by the Pope of 'prior art' in the form of every living thing ever created. His assertion is that the invention of the artificial cell is not 'novel', therefore making the patent granted by the USPO untenable. He suggests that making a single-cell organism is 'piss easy' and that the hugely complex multi-cellular creatures roaming the planet show a much greater state of the art than the scientists' 'crappy blue blobs of bacteria'.
Dr Venter has responded to the Papal challenge, saying that if God ultimately created everything, then He created the patent system in the first place and so clearly intended it to cover all human invention. 'The Pope has got his Catholic knickers in a twist because it turns out that we can do anything God can do,' said Dr Venter. 'They really shouldn't be surprised -- He's God -- didn't He see this coming?'.
The Pope has retaliated, stating that 'if God made the patent system then He owns all patents ever made, including yours, so nyer nyer'. He is calling for damages extending to 'billions of dollars' amid claims that some of the ideas revealed in the patent, such as 'copying good bits off someone else' and 'making sure all creatures have nipples' are trade secrets previously only available to omnipotent beings and should count as protected works.
Dr Venter aims to fight the challenge, saying that the reverse engineering of God's works, particularly choirboys, has been shown to be 'legal in the eyes of God' many times by the Pope's own priests.
Not everyone is impressed with the scientists new capabilities, however. 'I've been diddling around with God's creation for years, plus I've made a few new lifeforms of my own,' said mother-of-3 Katie Price, 'and trust me, there's nothing magical or scientific about the way I've done any of it.'
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