Legal Adjustments to International Law for an Economically Sound Patenting of Biotechnological Inventions

Franck Gloglo, “Legal Adjustments to International Law for an Economically Sound Patenting of Biotechnological Inventions”

Patents apply to a very broad range of technologies for which there are sometimes few other sources of data. As for the biotechnology sector, patents are based on any technological application that uses biological material to make or modify products or processes, and its role in the production of means that aim to improve human life on earth. With regard to the sub-sector of pharmaceuticals for example, studies have shown that a large proportion of new drugs come from biotechnological inventions. Yet, the use of tools to producing these innovative drugs arises a huge controversy, not just on the ownership of these tools –which, as a matter of fact, may be sorted out by the right anybody has to prospect natural resources under certain circumstances–, but on ethical concerns. The question, then, is to what extent and for how long international law shall be overdue in a matter that enables further technological developments for the benefit of humankind. Ethical considerations may deter companies from taking strategic decisions on R-D activities resulting in underinvest in such activities because of their inability to sufficiently appropriate the returns of their investments. Moreover, ethical concerns make it hard to design policies that aim at shaping IP systems and aligning them with the needs of the society. The aim of this paper is to analyse how to properly address the patentability of biotechnological inventions with an international law that meets the evolution of technologies.