Chatham House: Independent thinking on international affairs

Reports and Papers

Patenting Genetic Resources: Striving for the Right Balance

Briefing Paper
Alison L Hoare and Richard G Tarasofsky, October 2007

  • The emotive political debate around the appropriate patent rules for inventions involving genetic resources should not overshadow the real need to ensure that providers of genetic resources receive equitable compensation in exchange for providing access.
  • Proposals to modify patent rules by requiring applicants to disclose the source of origin of genetic resources have attracted many proponents, but implementing these rules is not always feasible. Other policy instruments may be more effective in ensuring equitable benefits while not being so burdensome as to stifle access and research.
  • Until the fundamental debates around the most appropriate balance of rights and obligations in intellectual property law are settled, it will be difficult to design patent rules that are effective in preventing misappropriation of genetic resources.
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