Open Source Approaches in Biotechnology: Utopia Revisited

46 Pages Posted: 9 Nov 2006

See all articles by Yann Joly

Yann Joly

McGill University - Centre for Genomics and Policy

Abstract

In the field of biotechnology, the patent system has had its share of detractors and has come under increasing criticism of late. It has been suggested that cooperative strategies such as open source could correct the inadequacies generated by the application of the patent system to biotechnological inventions. However, most of the critics of the patent system presume its inefficiency on the basis of theoretical arguments that have not been confirmed by the existing evidence. Before discussing the feasibility of implementing cooperative strategies in the field of biotechnology, should we not ensure that such strategies are really needed to improve the system?

We addressed this question by investigating the claim that the patent system has created an anticommons effect in the field of biotechnology. Our evaluation of the available empirical data demonstrates the absence of a widespread anticommons effect and thus the inadequacy of using this theory as a central argument in favour of the use of open source approaches in biotechnology. Ultimately, the use of open source approaches should be justified on the individual merits of these strategies rather than on the basis of theoretical inefficiencies of the patent system. Consequently, our article will analyze the various potential benefits of open source reported in the literature. The strategic use of collaborative approaches such as open source could facilitate the development of a dynamic and functional biomedical research sector in academia, one that continues to work in the spirit of open science.

Keywords: Patents, Open Source, Biotechnology

JEL Classification: K11, O34

Suggested Citation

Joly, Yann, Open Source Approaches in Biotechnology: Utopia Revisited. Maine Law Review, Vol. 59, No. 2, p. 386, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=943011

Yann Joly (Contact Author)

McGill University - Centre for Genomics and Policy ( email )

740 Dr. Penfield Avenue, Suite 5200
Montreal, Quebec H3A 0G1
Canada

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