fredag 7 maj 2010

Patenting life itself

I write my column Patents and Life in TCS Daily on 6 May 2004.

If patents in this area are not allowed, or left ambiguous, much of the research will have difficulties reaching a commercial potential, and will leave Europe lagging behind in the pharmaceutics and biotechnology fields.

In Sweden, and in most other countries, you are allowed to patent processes, instruments and newly created products but not what occurs naturally, since it is discovered rather than invented. A patent gives you the right to commercially use an invention with exclusivity for a period of time, in some cases 10-20 years, and then it is free for all. But the practice of patenting genes and genetic inventions is not as widespread in Europe as it is in the United States. One of the reasons that American scientists took the lead and completed the mapping of the human genome was that American legislation enabled the patenting of biotechnical inventions and genes. This is a disadvantage European scientists have had difficulties with, and EU legislation could do well to become clearer on the issue.

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