Creating Universal and Sustainable Access to Plants and Seeds: The Role of Clearinghouses, Open Source Licenses and Inclusive Patents
The Commons, Plant Breeding and Agricultural Research. Challenges for Food Security and Agrobiodiversity, F. GIRARD and C. FRISON (eds.), Abingdon-New York, Routledge, 2018, 88-106
27 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2018
Date Written: November 17, 2017
Access to plants and seeds is key in the debate on food security and agrobiodiversity. What legal architecture can assist in achieving universal and sustainable access to plants and seeds?
Some suggest abandoning property rights, and forsaking patents or dedicating patents to the public domain. Others propose the use of open source licenses. Yet others opt for the use of traditional patents, rendering them more accessible via standardized patent clearinghouses. The present paper critically looks at all those approaches, and concludes that none of those mechanisms provides firm universal and sustainable access.
This paper argues that plant innovation can be made open and kept open via the dynamic interplay between inclusive patents and open source type licenses. Plant innovation can be made open and universal openness can be crafted via the use of an inclusive patent, complemented with a permissive open source license. Plant innovation can be kept open and universal and sustainable openness can be achieved via the use of an inclusive patent, complemented with a copyleft type license, allowing recipients to use, share and change the original invention and carrying the additional obligation to make improvements available to other users on the same open source terms as the recipients received it. Only by mixing property rights (in casu: an inclusive patent) and contracts (in casu: copyleft style licenses) a robust mechanism of universal and sustainable openness can be designed and a world of truly open plants and seeds can be established.
Keywords: Plants, seeds, intellectual property, patents, licenses, open source license, copyleft license, inclusive patent
JEL Classification: D23, D45, H 41, H51, I18, K11, L14, L4, L 65, O13, O31, O32, O34, D23, D45, H 41, K11, L14, L 65, O
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