Patent Pools and Diagnostic Testing

24 Trends in Biotechnology (TIB), vol. 3, March 2006, 115-120

Posted: 26 Dec 2015

See all articles by Geertrui Van Overwalle

Geertrui Van Overwalle

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP)

Esther van Zimmeren

University of Leuven


There is increasing concern that overlapping patents in the field of genetics will create a costly and legally complex situation known as a patent thicket, which, along with the associated issues of accumulating royalty payments, can act as a disincentive for innovation. One potential means of preventing this is for the patent holders to enter into a so-called patent pool, such as those established in the electronics and telecommunications industries. Precedents for these also exist in the field of genetics, notably with the patents pertaining to the SARS genome. In this review, we initially address the patent pool concept in general and its application in genetics. Following this, we will explore patent pools in the diagnostic field in more detail, and examine some existing and novel examples of patent pools in genetics.

Keywords: Human genetics, Gene patents, Tragedy of the anti-commons, Patent thicket, Patent pools

JEL Classification: D23, D45, H 41, H51, I18, K11, L14, L 65, O31, O32, O34,

Suggested Citation

Van Overwalle, Geertrui and van Zimmeren, Esther, Patent Pools and Diagnostic Testing. 24 Trends in Biotechnology (TIB), vol. 3, March 2006, 115-120 . Available at SSRN:

Geertrui Van Overwalle (Contact Author)

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP) ( email )

Sint-Michielsstraat 6 box 3443
Leuven, 3000


Esther Van Zimmeren

University of Leuven ( email )

Oude Markt 13
Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant 3000

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