Beyond Borders: Patent-less Regime for Genomic?
Major breakthrough in genomic technology has been insinuating into another set of unresolved uncertainties; patentability of genetic inventions. Given the complex nature of information inherent in the molecules and genes, the scope of genomic patent claims must be solely granted to the clear function of gene. Utility examination guidelines, indeed, by the national patent offices need to be put under constant review. Otherwise, driven by monopoly, the patent holders are likely to impose higher royalty in the licensing contracts to follow-on researchers. In general, over-dependence on the previous patents is not consonant with the convenient access and propertization of genomic. Since further inventions engage with expensive laborious research, recourse to research exemption would be significant for nascent biotechnology sectors in developing nations. In the course of exploring beyond the conventional wisdom of chemical patent regime, this paper first recognizes practical underpinning principles and problems inherent in the genomic research. Whilst some biotechnology policies are purely of investment-based, account for ‘social trajectory’ implication is equally important. It further proceeds to analytically discuss about the multiple policy initiatives sought to streamline the industry in making much better headway – industry best practices, code of conduct, clearinghouse mechanism, patent pools and multilateral agreement on basic access to science and technology. Nonetheless, diffused structures and functions of bioethics, technology, regulatory mechanism and commercialization must be visible to achieve in a sustainable biotechnology development. In conclusion, rights and interests associated to scientific community (inventor and innovator) and public-at-large require delicate attention through both national biotechnology policy and international norms and practices.
Keywords: Genomic, Patent, Alternative Regime
Muhammad Nizam Awang
Head of Syariah and law Programme, Faculty of Syariah and Law, Islamic Science University of Malaysia