Edited by David Castle
Chapter 11: On the Border: Biotechnology, the Scope of Intellectual Property and the Dissemination of Scientific Benefits
11. On the border: biotechnology, the scope of intellectual property and the dissemination of scientific benefits Christopher May Many commentators want to discuss the intersection of biotechnology and patents (or intellectual property more generally) as if this was a novel problem, requiring new solutions, and a new politics. However, as the politics of intellectual property has always been about making property from new techniques and knowledge (intellectual property almost by definition is the commodification1 of innovation), this claim for historical novelty is far from conclusive. In this chapter I will suggest there are two responses that can be made to the argument that biotechnology requires a reformation of the patent system; first we can examine the possibilities for incremental ‘problem solving’ – reworking and renegotiating how the system deals with biotechnology ‘innovations’; second, it can be taken as a question regarding the general scope of intellectual property itself. The latter argument suggests that this is a category, or border, problem; biotechnology is erroneously included in the system of patents, and many of the political, ethical and practical issues might be solved by establishing that biotechnological ‘products’ and techniques should not be subject to patent at all. Thus, rather than a question about how patents might better support innovation, another way through the current disputes over biotech patents would be firmly to (re)establish patent criteria to exclude biotechnological tools and bio-medical materials/products altogether. Certainly, in many ways biotechnology is not a revolutionary technology; rather, it builds on centuries of husbandry, the...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.