Patent-Busting: The Public Patent Foundation, Gene Patents, and the Seed Wars
Charles Lawson and Jay Sanderson (ed.), The Intellectual Property and Food Project: From Rewarding Innovation and Creation to Feeding the World, Farnham (Surrey): Ashgate, 2013, 201-250.
Posted: 16 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 15, 2013
This chapter considers the Public Patent Foundation as a novel institution in the patent framework. It contends that such a model can play a productive role in challenging the validity of high-profile patents; working as an amicus curiae in significant court cases; and also promoting patent law reform. However, there are limits to the ‘patent-busting’ of the Foundation. The not-for-profit legal services organization has only had the time and resources to challenge a number of noteworthy patents. Other jurisdictions – such as Australia – lack such public-spirited "patent-busting" entities. This chapter considers a number of key disputes involving the Public Patent Foundation. Part I examines the role of the Public Patent Foundation in the landmark dispute over Myriad Genetics’ patents in respect of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Part II considers the role of the Public Patent Foundation in litigation between organic farmers and Monsanto. Part III examines the role of the Public Patent Foundation in larger debates about patent law reform in the United States – particularly looking at the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act 2011 (US). The conclusion contends that the patent-busting model of the Public Patent Foundation should be emulated in respect of other technological fields, and other jurisdictions – such as Australia. The initiative could also be productively applied to other forms of intellectual property – such as trade mark law, designs law, plant breeders’ rights, plant breeders’ rights, and access to genetic resources.
Keywords: Patent Law, Patent-Busting, Gene Patents, Seed Wars, Biotechnology, Health, Agriculture, Patent Law Reform
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