ISSUES 67, JUNE 2004
New Publisher for Issues
Patent Protection for Biotech and Pharmaceutical Inventions
What are the considerations that need to be taken into account
and the costs involved in a patent application?
The Role of the Patent Office
What are the issues that are currently considered when granting
or rejecting an Australian patent, and some of the potential obstacles
to major changes in the patenting system?
Gene Patenting and Human Health: An Issue for Reform
The Australian Law Reform Commission recently completed a public
inquiry into how the law should be changed to adapt to issues
of patenting genetic materials and technologies. Its final report
will not become public until later this year, but the legal and
scientific background, along with some of its preliminary findings
and suggestions, are discussed in this article.
International Limits to Patent Reform
The extent to which Australia can influence international patent
law regimes is limited. As a member of the World Trade Organisation,
Australia is required to meet its obligations as a party to the
TRIPS Agreement. The proposed Free Trade Agreement with the United
States of America adds a further dimension.
The Impact of Gene Patenting on Traditional Research Practices
One of the features of the developing biotechnology industry is an erosion of the traditional divisions between basic and applied research and between research organisations and companies. Both sectors are now actively involved in patenting and commercialising research findings. This article considers some of the effects that this trend is having on traditional research practices.
Our Genes: Humanity's Heritage
or Cash Cow?
Genetic research is increasingly being used for private profit.
Many patents have been granted for items that should not be patentable
and that this has the potential to greatly increase the cost of
vital medicines and tests. The law should be changed so that human
genetic information cannot be placed under private control.
Student Input into Gene Patent Law Reforms
Students at the University of Newcastle made a submission to the
Australian Law Reform Commission's inquiry into Gene Patenting
and Human Health, with some of their contributions, outlined here,
incorporated into the discussion paper produced by the ALRC.
The Ethics of Patenting Human Genes
The issue of granting patents on human genes and related technologies
is complex, with philosophical, social, ethical, practical and
financial dimensions to the equation. It goes to the very question
of human identity, and all these dimensions have to be balanced
to achieve the best social good while rewarding innovation and
spurring scientific endeavour.
Global Justice and Genetic Patenting
The patenting of human, animal and plant genes needs to be seen
in an international context, considering the imbalances of power
and wealth between developing and developed nations, and between
large companies and the indigenous peoples who often first discovered
the uses of certain species.
Natural Ways: Learning from
Nature's 4.5-Billion-Year Biotechnology Project
Many of our medicines continue to come from, or be inspired by,
nature. But how can we ensure that when we use natural products
as the basis for medical treatments the profits are shared fairly
between those who made the discovery, and those whose land, or
sea, the product comes from?
Gene Patenting and Indigenous Issues
History is filled with examples of colonists stealing land and
property from indigenous peoples. How can we avoid repeating these
crimes when it comes to genetic material?
The Industry View
AusBiotech represents more than 1700 members of the biotech industry,
covering the entire sector from basic research through to commercialisation
by local and international companies. AusBiotech believes that
the patent system works well for genetic
materials and is in need of only minor reforms.
Exercising Patent Rights
Monsanto is one of the largest biotechnology companies in the
world, producing some of the most famous genetically engineered
crops, such as Round-up Ready soybeans and canola. Here they present
their view that genetic patenting increases research and
consequently benefits the whole community.
Seeds of Hope: Gene Patents
and Farmers' Rights
Last month the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Percy Schmeiser,
a Canadian farmer, had violated the patent on herbicide-resistant
canola held by the biotechnology company Monsanto. The case raises
important questions about gene patents, innocent infringement,
and farmers' rights.