EU: expert team examines biotech patents12 Dec, 2012
The EU will build a team of 15 experts to examine the issues surrounding biotech patents. The team will consist of experts in the areas of IP law, R&D, life sciences and biotech.
The team will advise the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on the so called ‘Biotech Patent Directive’. The Biotech Patent Directive grants patent protection for biotech inventions to make sure that there’s enough incentive to do (expensive) research on biotech, but there are still a number of thorny issues.
Especially difficult is the question how these patents will affect access to human genome data by scientists, and how the genome data can be used in research and applications.
Discoveries which “do not extend human ability but only human knowledge” are not patentable by nature. Seen in that light, pure sequencing of genomes should not be patentable.
But the EU decided to grant patents for inventions based on or comprised of genome sequencing, provided that they satisfy the criteria of “invention” and if they were “released from its natural surroundings by means of a technical procedure” and that if the researchers point to a commercial application in their patent application. Now that genome sequencing is becoming a lot easier, the experts will have to advise how this will affect biotech patents.
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