ISSUES 67, JUNE 2004

New Publisher for Issues

Stephen Luntz

Patent Protection for Biotech and Pharmaceutical Inventions
Amanda Stark, Griffith Hack Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys
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
Rod Crawford, IP Australia
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
Australian Law Reform Commission
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
Michael Kirby, High Court of Australia
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
Dianne Nicol, Centre for Law and Genetics, Law Faculty, University of Tasmania
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?
Graeme Suthers, South Australian Clinical Genetics Service
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
Liz Milward, University of Newcastle
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
Michael Herbert and Rev Dr Norman Ford, Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics
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
Del Weston, Murdoch University
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
Elizabeth Evans-Illidge, Australian Institute of Marine Science
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
Barbara Ann Hocking, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology
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
Matthew Rimmer, Faculty of Law, Australian National University
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.

Issues: Published by Control Publications, publishers of Australasian Science.
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