To Patent or Not to Patent: The European Union's New Biotech Directive

By Nenow, Lydia | Houston Journal of International Law, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

To Patent or Not to Patent: The European Union's New Biotech Directive


Nenow, Lydia, Houston Journal of International Law


I. INTRODUCTION

After centuries of fusing, melting, forging, and burning inorganic materials to create useful things, we have come to a time in mankind's development when we are splicing, recombining, and transforming living material into commercial goods. Biotechnology is already used in a variety of business fields--agriculture, animal husbandry, pharmaceuticals, and medicine.(1) Scientists are mapping the genomes of many creatures, from bacteria to yeast to human beings,(2) and creating a huge genetic library for commercial exploitation. The deciphering, systematizing, and utilizing of the vast amount of genetic information is made possible only by the coming together of powerful computers and advanced life sciences.(3) Information technology and life sciences are merging into a single, powerful, technological and economic force that will constitute the foundation of a new era in the industrial development of mankind: the era of life sciences and biotechnology-based products.(4)

While biotechnology has the potential to positively affect many aspects of our lives-from what we eat to the way we have our babies and treat diseases--it is also an industry that requires the investment of enormous financial capital for the research and development of new products.(5) This financial capital becomes tied up for prolonged periods of time and can often be lost because of the company's failure to render a marketable product.(6) Biotechnology is a "risky business,"(7) and therefore, patent protection is essential for life science companies if they are to risk financial resources and years of research and development to bring new and useful products to the market.

Since the early eighties, the Member States of the European Union(8) have known that biotechnology is emerging as one of the most innovative and promising among technologies(9) and that the biotechnology market is dominated by the United States,(10) where the level of investments is three times higher than in Europe.(11) The Member States have also realized that the protection of biotech inventions is of fundamental importance for the European Community's industrial development, and that adaptation of European intellectual property rights to recent technological changes and harmonization of the European patent law systems can improve legal certainty and help increase the research and development investment in European life science companies.(12)

There are three sources of law that govern patent grants in Europe--the agreements of the European Patent Convention(13) ("EPC"), Directive 98/44/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union on the Legal Protection of Biotechnological Inventions(14) ("Biotech Directive"), and the national laws of the individual European states.(15) The property rights of biotechnology interests are undermined by the lack of harmony among these three sources, the need for patent "morality" assessments by the European Patent Office ("EPO"), and the ability of concerned citizens and organizations to challenge a patent at any stage of its issuance.

Part Two of this Article provides some general definitions from the area of biotechnology and information about the present applications of life science products. Part Three presents an overview of the purpose and economics of a patent system. Part Four discusses the sources of law that govern patent grants in Europe in an attempt to resolve potential supremacy issues among them and to assess to what extent these laws can affect the European Community's endeavor to advance Europe's biotechnology industry to the level of its U.S. counterpart. Part Five presents the argument that patent issuers should not be forced to make ethical judgments as to the morality of exploiting a given invention. Part Six concludes that the current state of patent laws will probably prevent European countries from securing the capital necessary to advance Europe's biotechnology industry to a level comparable to that of the United States. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

To Patent or Not to Patent: The European Union's New Biotech Directive
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.