Although never uncontroversial, intellectual property rights in biotechnological innovation are once more the focus of intense debate. The debate has yet to reach any result, largely because of several important errors in the way that various disciplines approach it. These errors include making assumptions without empirical basis and conflating various intellectual property regimes. What is needed is a transdisciplinary integrated method to correct these errors. Such a method can be implemented through the construction of alternative models of intellectual property protection designed to balance the various social, ethical and economic constraints that affect biotechnology.