New patenting guidelines needed for biotechnology
Biotechnology scientists must be aware of the broad patent landscape and push for new patent and licensing guidelines, according to a new paper. Biotechnological inventions have been patented for several decades, though the criteria for patent eligibility have been refined through numerous court decisions. One of the most influential determined that “anything under the sun made by man” could be patented, leading to the diverse biotechnology patent landscape seen today, the authors said.
Biotechnology scientists must be aware of the broad patent landscape and push for new patent and licensing guidelines, according to a new paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.Published in the current issue of the journal Regenerative Medicine, the paper is based on the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) v. Myriad Genetics that naturally occurring genes are unpatentable. The court case and rulings garnered discussion in the public about patenting biological materials.”The AMP v. Myriad Genetics case raises questions about the patent system,” said Kirstin Matthews, the Baker Institute fellow in science and technology policy and an expert on ethical and policy issues related to biomedical research and development. She co-authored the paper with Maude Rowland Cuchiara, the Baker Institute scholar for science and technology policy. The paper has timely significance in light of President Barack Obama’s recent announcements on reforming the nation’s patent process, including an initiative announced in February to “crowdsource” the review of patents.”There are not many opportunities to challenge patents once they have been granted, and the options that are available are costly and mostly limited to lawsuits,” Matthews said. Judges typically do not have the scientific knowledge to understand some of the technical arguments that are made in their courts, she said. “It may be better, as President Obama has proposed, to revise patenting guidelines at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office based on feedback from scientists, engineers, ethicists and policy scholars as opposed to leaving it up to the courts.”Until the Supreme Court’s decision, Myriad Genetics was the only company in the U.S. …
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