The Year In Biotech/Biodiversity: Patentability, Plant Varieties, Treaty Implementation

Biotech

Intellectual property-related developments expected this year could profoundly impact the fields of biotechnology and biodiversity. In addition, ongoing issues relating to plant variety protection and public health are expected to be at the forefront of discussions this year. The following is a look at many of the top issues to come.

Geneva Climate Change Talks Conclude With Formal Negotiating Text

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Following seven days of negotiations, 194 nations convened in Geneva agreed the negotiating text that is the basis for the accord they hope to reach in Paris at the end of 2015, to come into effect in 2020.

US Challenges For Biotech In 2015 – An Interview With BIO’s Hans Sauer

Hans Sauer

The biotechnology industry is closely watching developments in the United States that could impact the industry in 2015. These include the regulatory framework for biosimilars, possible patent legislation, post-grant review procedure, and the consequences of the recent Supreme Court ruling banning the patenting of human genes. Hans Sauer, Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), recently spoke with Intellectual Property Watch’s Catherine Saez. Sauer was asked to lay out the main developments to watch in the coming year.

Draft UN Post-2015 Development Goals: Future Must Not Be ‘Business As Usual’, Including IP Rights

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Last week’s United Nations draft report for the post-2015 sustainable development goals under negotiation calls for continued progress toward sweeping improvements in the lives of all people and the health of the planet, including ensuring that intellectual property rights are respected but do not get in the way.

Paper Proposes Access And Benefit Mechanisms To Help Implement Nagoya Protocol

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A recent paper proposes that countries use the access and benefit-sharing mechanism of the Nagoya Protocol to ensure conservation action and effective implementation of the protocol.

Civil Society Files Opposition To Monsanto Climate-Related Soybean Patent

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A civil society coalition is after one of European Monsanto’s patents, accusing the giant seed corporation of biopiracy. The patent granted in February was challenged by the No Patents on Seeds coalition, which filed an opposition a few days ago.

African IP Body Steps Up Regional Effort To Adopt Plant Protection Protocol

Sorghum - Flickr -  Cyndy Sims Parr

The African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), with the help of the United States and an international plant variety organisation, is working to grow regional support for a controversial draft law. The draft protocol would boost protection for new plant varieties, despite concerns of local civil society that it would not be in the best interest of ARIPO members’ food security due to its potential impact on small farmers. ARIPO held a regional workshop on the issue in recent weeks in part to build support for a treaty negotiation to lock in these protections.

Draft Revision To Provide Higher Protection To GIs Fine-Tuned At WIPO

Tequila - Flickr - ebifried

The contracting parties of the agreement protecting appellations of origin at the World Intellectual Property Organization are meeting this week to fine-tune a draft revision of this agreement to include geographical indications. The end of the week is scheduled to be devoted to a preparatory committee of a high-level negotiating meeting in 2015 to adopt the revision.

UPOV Meetings Conclude With New Observers; Tanzania Can Become UPOV Member

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The international body protecting new varieties of plants concluded a week-long set of meetings with a number of decisions, among which was the re-appointment of its secretary general, and the addition of an international organisation and a farmers’ organisation as observers. The national legislation on plant breeders of Zanzibar was approved, opening the way for Tanzania to become a UPOV member.

The TPP’s New Plant-Related Intellectual Property Provisions

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The newly-released Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) intellectual property (IP) chapter would help seed conglomerates like Monsanto prevent farmers from saving and using seeds that contain patented plant materials, even when such use is for their own personal consumption. The TPP language would also prevent breeders from using plants seeds that contain patented plant materials to research and develop new varieties. Most plant variety protection (PVP) systems allow farmers to save and reuse seeds (for noncommercial purposes) and permit breeders to use protected plant varieties to research and develop new varieties. In contrast, patents on plant-related inventions, as outlined in the TPP, may have few exceptions. This new text constitutes a huge step in the wrong direction, changing the plant IP regimes of many of the negotiating countries to the detriment of their populations, writes Public Citizen.