Smart Innovation and Inclusive Patents for Sustainable Food and Health Care: Redefining the Europe 2020 Objectives
Constructing European Intellectual Property. Achievements and New Perspectives, C. Geiger, ed., Edward Elgar, 2013, 231-254
26 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2014 Last revised: 25 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2013
Various remedies have been suggested to deal with potential hindering effects of patents in the area of plant and human biotechnology – two areas which show remarkable linkages and share similar problems. What many of these suggestions have in common, is their call for a more responsible behaviour of patent owners in the exercise of their patent rights. In light of the controversies surrounding patents on plant traits and on human genes, and the growing discontent with some undesirable effects of the current patent system, there is a need to reconceptualize patent rights, all the more so in the life sciences area. A patent can no longer be viewed as a title giving (almost) complete freedom to exclude others from use, but rather as a temporary permit to exploit monopoly rights under fair and reasonable conditions, investing technology owners with the authority to invent and share. In other words: patents may be looked at as tools to reshape exclusions into inclusions, giving rise to ‘inclusive patents’. A patent should be seen as a duty-bearing privilege, especially in areas which are vital for our basic well-being, namely food and health care.
Compulsory licences (e.g. for crop breeding and public health) and exceptions (e.g. a restricted breeder’s exception for the use of native plant traits and a narrow diagnostic-use exemption) can function as a safety valves and discourage exclusive or overly restrictive licensing. Narrow(er) claim drafting (e.g. purpose-bound protection for gene patents) and collaborative licensing (e.g. genetic patent pools and clearinghouses single genes or gene panels) may help overcome patent thickets. All such measures will establish ‘inclusive patents’, fuelling ‘smart’ innovations assisting in achieving ‘inclusive’ welfare in Europe in the food and health care sector by 2020 and far beyond.
Keywords: Innovation, patents, plant breeder's rights, human genes, plant traits
JEL Classification: D23, D45, H51, I18, K11, O31, O32, O34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation