Patents and transgenic plants
Dunwell, J.M. (2007) Patents and transgenic plants. Acta Horticulturae, 725. pp. 719-732. ISSN 0567-7572
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Official URL: http://www.actahort.org/books/725/725_101.htm
One of the recurring themes in any discussion concerning the application of genetic transformation technology is 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 will explain the concepts behind patent protection, and will discuss 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 these patents have any significant commercial value, there are a small number of key patents that may restrict the “freedom to operate” of any company seeking to exploit the methods. Over the last twenty 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 to be of little interest to the academic scientist working in the public sector, they are of great importance in any debate about the role of “public-good breeding” and of the relationship between the public and private sectors.