Many scientific fields frequently use patents. Patents, like other forms of intellectual property, can be used to stimulate scientific research and development. Individuals and manufacturers can also use this intellectual property protection to assert rights over their own innovations. One area of science in which the use of patents is a very common practice is biotechnology.
Biotechnology makes use of items found in nature such as microbes, genes, and elements to find ways to improve life for all people. Most uses of biotechnological knowledge as well as related patents are intended to enhance standards of healthcare and pharmaceutical products. This intellectual property protection in the biotechnological context may also preserve the environment, assist in product development, and increase crop yields.
Biotechnology patents belong to a category of patents known as utility patents. Utility patents are a form of intellectual property protection which may be accorded to machines, manufactured items, processes, and compositions of matter. Biotechnological patents may sometimes be provided to items which are or once were alive.
Certain biotechnological inventions are patentable in most countries. Examples of these inventions include methods for the production or analysis of proteins; genes which have been isolated to perform specific tasks; and isolated or produced cells, proteins, DNA sequences, or microorganisms which have not been previously described. Genetically modified organisms such as plants and animals are also usually patentable.
Biological Material and Patentability
Some have opposed the granting of patents to biotechnological items such as certain genes or organisms. This is because they believe that items which are found in nature cannot be deemed inventive; they can only be discovered. Other critics say that because biological material may reproduce or change its form, patents should not apply because the material is in a perpetual state of flux. As such, they claim that biological material should not benefit from intellectual property protection through a patent.
However, most intellectual property courts consider processes related to these items to be inventive. By taking appropriate steps, inventors can prove that the biotechnological item which is to receive intellectual property protection is more than just a natural item. In addition, an inventor should also demonstrate that the item in question is the first in existence which performs a specific action. Biological material which has this characteristic is more likely to be granted patent protection.
The Importance of Biotechnological Patents
Biotechnological patents are some of the most important forms of intellectual property in existence. This is because they have contributed to advancements in the life sciences and pharmaceutical sector. They have helped to enhance many people’s quality of life and extended the life expectancy of many others.
Medical innovations are supported by patents granted for the compounds used in the manufacture of medicines. The safety of the blood donation process has also been improved through patented tests which check donated blood for the presence of any dangerous pathogens. Other biotechnological items with this intellectual property protection have led to much improvement in paternity testing and DNA fingerprinting as well as the extension of cancer patients’ lives.
Research and development of any new biotechnological item can often be both costly and time-consuming. Investors may notice the potential of these items when they realize that they have received due intellectual property protection. They often go on to supply manufacturers with the venture capital required. Additionally, without claiming intellectual property rights to recoup their investments, clinical trials and research often cannot be conducted.
Biotechnological Patents and Biodiversity
Biotechnological patents can even contribute to an increased level of biodiversity around the world. This is an area in which there is much potential for growth. A study has shown that all patented items related to biodiversity cover just 4% of all taxonomically described species in the world.
Patents, like other forms of intellectual property, provide avenues for research and development through increased funding. This funding may then be used to facilitate initiatives which promote innovation directly related to biodiversity. Intellectual property authorities are also incentivized to grant patents to inventions which promote biodiversity. This is because such inventions facilitate the use of additional resources to provide socioeconomic value.
Intellectual property authorities around the world should increase the level of transparency of information about biodiversity in the patent system. Biotechnological patents should be forms of intellectual property which are focused on biodiversity and thus help to preserve the global ecosystem, delivering benefits to the environment, humanity, and even businesses.
This article brought to you by Exy Intellectual Property Malaysia and Singapore.