Biotechnology and Patents: Global Standards, European Approaches and National Accents
Geertrui Van Overwalle
Leuven University; Tilburg University
GENETIC ENGINEERING AND THE WORLD TRADE SYSTEM, Daniel Wüger, Thomas Cottier, eds., Cambridge University Press, pp. 77-108, 2008
Intellectual property rights have, from their inception, been shaped by international treaties. National legislators have had to look at the international scene to gain some insight into the prevailing intellectual property standards. This trend was less prominent in the field of patent law and it was only with the coming into effect of the TRIPS Agreement that key international standards with regard to patents were established. In that regard, TRIPS seemed to constitute einen Meilenstein von enormer Bedeutung, (a major milestone) since, for the first time in patent history, it introduced a worldwide framework of minimum standards with regard to the grant, scope and use of patent rights.
The present paper describes the global standards for the patenting of biotechnological inventions and offers an in-depth and critical comparison against those of European and national regimes. Chapter 1 describes the TRIPS rules for the patenting of biotechnological inventions and hereby centres on six key issues: plants and animals, the human body, ethics, human rights, traditional knowledge and health. Chapter 2 examines the European patent biotech framework and revolves around the same topics. It will be seen that this examination demonstrates clearly that European patent law has adapted itself to the new reality of biotechnology in many ways, but that various issues remain unsettled and so call for further reflection and debate. In Chapter 3, a number of national patent systems for biotechnological inventions are considered, focusing on the same six topics. This review reveals that it comes as a real challenge for European Union Member States’ legislators to reconcile international or European objectives and national aspirations when adapting their patent laws to the new technology of genetic engineering.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: Patents, TRIPs, Biotechnological inventions, Human body, Ethics, Morality, Human rights, Traditional Knowledge, Health
JEL Classification: D23, D45, H 41, H51, I18, K11, L14, L 65, O13, O31, O32, O34Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 4, 2010
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