Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biotechnology Needs 21st Century Patent System, Expert Argues

Date:
March 17, 2008
Source:
Australian National University
Summary:
Biotechnology discoveries -- like the method for creating synthetic life forms -- are at risk of being unduly hindered or taken hostage by private corporations unless patent systems are brought into the 21st century, an expert argues.

Biotechnology discoveries -- like the method for creating synthetic life forms -- are at risk of being unduly hindered or taken hostage by private corporations unless patent systems are brought into the 21st century, an expert from The Australian National University argues.

Dr Matthew Rimmer from the ANU College of Law takes a broad look at the current state of international regulation around intellectual property rights and biological inventions in his new book -- and the prognosis is far from healthy.

"Most patent systems around the world were developed during the industrial revolution, which means they're ill equipped to deal with more complex range of inventions arising out of life sciences -- things like man-made micro-organisms, GM plants, the human genome and stem cells," Dr Rimmer says.

Dr Rimmer says that patent systems provide protections around inventions provided they satisfy criteria to do with novelty, an inventive step and utility. But he argues that such legal tools are not nuanced enough for biotechnical innovation, where inventions can be at once more intellectually subtle and morally ambiguous.

"When it comes to biotechnology, our antiquated patent systems can have detrimental consequences -- either hampering the freedom of researchers to take full advantage of experimental use and the possibilities for innovation, or giving a lot of control over living things to a very small group of people."

Dr Rimmer laments the rise of 'patent trolls' -- companies that take out patents on very slight biotechnical innovations, and then hold other researchers to ransom if they attempt to make any progress in that particular area.

On the other hand, he acknowledges the legal and ethical complexities surrounding the actions of scientists like those at the J. Craig Venter Institute in the US, who are trying to patent the method for creating a synthetic life-form. While the organism involved is incredibly simple, Dr Rimmer says such moves could lead to patents being taken out on much more complex living things.

Dr Rimmer argues that in order to provide more incentives and protections for scientific innovation, there needs to be greater scope in Australia and elsewhere for challenges to patent applications. He also says there is a need for a broader legal defence of experimentation. Finally, Dr Rimmer argues that thresholds need to be raised to make it harder to get a patent, which would be a blow to 'patent trolls'.

  


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Australian National University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Australian National University. "Biotechnology Needs 21st Century Patent System, Expert Argues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317094855.htm>.
Australian National University. (2008, March 17). Biotechnology Needs 21st Century Patent System, Expert Argues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 14, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317094855.htm
Australian National University. "Biotechnology Needs 21st Century Patent System, Expert Argues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080317094855.htm (accessed September 14, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins