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The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Biotechnology Innovation

Edited by David Castle

Intellectual property rights (IPRs), particularly patents, occupy a prominent position in innovation systems, but to what extent they support or hinder innovation is widely disputed. Through the lens of biotechnology, this book delves deeply into the main issues at the crossroads of innovation and IPRs to evaluate claims of the positive and negative impacts of IPRs on innovation.
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Chapter 6: Looking Beyond the Firm: Intellectual Asset Management and Biotechnology

Karen L. Durell and E. Richard Gold


Karen L. Durell and E. Richard Gold INTRODUCTION The academic, business and international communities increasingly pay attention to the rights – their nature and number – that companies have over intellectual assets. The single-mindedness of this focus is, we argue, misplaced, as it is not the right itself that is significant but rather the way that companies and communities put these assets to work. Rights in intellectual assets – commonly known as intellectual property rights (‘IPRs’) – provide their holders with a right to veto the actions of others with respect to the asset (whether that asset be knowledge, patents, copyright, trademarks, and so on). These actions include copying, making, selling, offering for sale or importing goods which incorporate the asset underlying the right. Just because an IPRs holder has the right to block public access to an asset does not mean that he or she will do so. What the right offers is the ability to make choices; how the rights holder chooses to utilize an IPR affects, however, not only him or her, but society at large. We argue that rights holders ought – not only for the public’s sake but for their own – make these choices within a framework which takes into account the synergies arising from private and public actors working within a community. The strategic deployment of IPRs – what rights to keep, license or assign, to whom to give permission to use underlying intellectual assets, which corporate structures to create, and so on – falls into the field of intellectual asset...

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