Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives

By Bartha Maria Knoppers | Go to book overview

Harmonizing Commercialisation and Gene Patent
Policy with Other Social Goals

Lorraine Sheremeta

Research Associate, Health Law Institute, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta

E. Richard Gold

BCE Chair in e-Governance, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University

Timothy Caulfield

Canada Chair in Health Law and Policy; Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta; and, Research Director, Health Law Institute, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta


Introduction

Though social debate continues, there is no doubt that human gene sequences are patentable. This reality has shifted much of the academic debate away from questions of patentability toward an analysis of ways to improve the patent system in light of the extensive social and ethical concerns surrounding gene patents.1-2 The debate, therefore, is no longer centred on whether human genes ought to be patentable but on the implications of gene patents.

Patent law and industry experts are generally of the view that the Canadian patent system, in its current form, offers sufficient flexibility to accommodate all types of inventions, including the products of biotechnology. At present, a patent is granted by the patent office if the invention meets the criteria specified for patentability specified in the Patent Act4 and if the disclosure is sufficiently enabling. Under Canadian law, there is no

Bartha Maria Knoppers (ed.), Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives. ©2003 Koninklijke Brill NV. Printed in the Netherlands.

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