Question About Morph Art

Hello I am an artist looking to make reptile art, especially snake morphs, and I wanted to do some posters of my favorite morph combos and sell them on etsy or an online art shop, but I was wondering if morph colors are copyrighted? I know the photos online are copyrighted by the breeder who took the photo so can I still use them for the pattern and color reference? The art itself would be completely drawn and colored by me and the snakes would be in unique poses I draw myself using my own ball pythons as reference but I need to look at photos and youtube videos to get pattern details more exact for unique morph combos even though I will not make them exact copies of any existing snakes. I didn’t want to step on any toes in the reptile industry and wanted to see if this is frowned upon?

I wanted to do an illustrated poster almost like a Pokemon chart of all the major single gene morphs, for example. But I know certain breeders produced specific combos with special names and I wanted to know if that is off limits copyright wise to label or list the art that way? Sorry if this is all me just overthinking but I wanted to know before I got started.


You cannot copyright or otherwise claim ownership of naturally occurring genes (at least in the US), so I’m pretty sure you’re fine.


As another artist, I definitely appreciate the concerns!

I think if there was truly an issue, we wouldn’t be able to breed them. Much like how Glofish are trademarked. Now if someone does go and trademark a gene, then that would be an issue.

I think it will be a neat project for you to work on for sure. =)


“A gene patent is the exclusive rights to a specific sequence of DNA (a gene) given by a government to the individual, organization, or corporation who claims to have first identified the gene. Once granted a gene patent, the holder of the patent dictates how the gene can be used, in both commercial settings, such as clinical genetic testing, and in noncommercial settings, including research, for 20 years from the date of the patent. Gene patents have often resulted in companies having sole ownership of genetic testing for patented genes.” - Can genes be patented?: MedlinePlus Genetics

I am pretty sure that agricultural companies hold patents over certain corn, lemon, grape …etc. seeds.

However, in the reptile world, we are yet to see such things. I do not doubt that someone will try and file one day though :sweat_smile:

But yeah, you are free to draw any morph in any colour you like :wink:


Gotta give you a bit of grief for not reading the very next paragraph of that article :joy: :

“On June 13, 2013, in the case of the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that human genes cannot be patented in the U.S. because DNA is a “product of nature.” The Court decided that because nothing new is created when discovering a gene, there is no intellectual property to protect, so patents cannot be granted. Prior to this ruling, more than 4,300 human genes were patented. The Supreme Court’s decision invalidated those gene patents, making the genes accessible for research and for commercial genetic testing.”

Generally that ruling would be used beyond human genetics and likely into animals as well. Basically unless it’s a modified bit of DNA, you can’t own it.


Greif very well deserved