Review: intellectual property aspects of plant transformation
Dunwell, J.M. (2005) Review: intellectual property aspects of plant transformation. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 3 (4). pp. 371-384. ISSN 1467-7644
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2005.00142.x
One of the recurring themes of the debates concerning the application of genetic transformation technology has been the role of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). This term covers both the content of patents and the confidential expertise usually related to methodology and referred to as 'Trade Secrets'. This review explains the concepts behind patent protection, and discusses the wide-ranging scope of existing patents that cover all aspects of transgenic technology, from selectable markers and novel promoters to methods of gene introduction. Although few of the patents in this area have any real commercial value, there are a small number of key patents that restrict the 'freedom to operate' of new companies seeking to exploit the methods. Over the last 20 years, these restrictions have forced extensive cross-licensing between ag-biotech companies and have been one of the driving forces behind the consolidation of these companies. Although such issues are often considered of little interest to the academic scientist working in the public sector, they are of great importance in any discussion of the role of 'public-good breeding' and of the relationship between the public and private sectors.