The application of gene therapy to the treatment of arthritis and related disorders is a novel therapeutic approach of considerable promise. Genes may be delivered locally to diseased joints, or systemically to extra-articular locations, by ex vivo or in vivo strategies using a variety of viral and non-viral vectors. A small number of patent applications have been filed which seek to protect these concepts, but none have yet been issued. A number of potentially anti-arthritic genes have been patented and more may be expected to receive patent protection in the future. Improvements in vector delivery systems are likely to be a major focus of future patent applications.