Economic and Social Justice Perspectives
Edited by Anne Flanagan and Maria Lillà Montagnani
Chapter 4: Protection of Cultural and Biological Diversity by Patent Law: Issues to be Resolved
Jerzy Koopman INTRODUCTION 1. This chapter addresses proposals to amend patent law in view of the need for protection of cultural and biological diversity and the related interests of traditional knowledge holders and biological diversity-rich countries.1 Primarily based on the Convention on Biological Diversity (1993) several initiatives are taken to provide new forms of protection for the resources of biotechnological R&D that come forth from such diversity.2 Proprietary forms of protection are often deemed important. Therefore, many ini- 1 The meaning and relevancy of said diversity, traditional knowledge and biotechnological research and development (R&D hereafter) is further explained in sections 2 and 3 of this chapter. For the purpose of this introduction, these terms may, however, be understood as follows. Biotechnology entails the modification and application of genetic and other biochemical compounds for, among others, medical and agricultural purposes. It combines several methods from a variety of disciplines, such as chemistry, micro-biology, and informatics. The products developed through R&D necessarily have a biological and biochemical character. See Biotechnology Industry Organization, Guide to Biotechnology 2008 (BIO, Washington 2008) 18–31. Traditional knowledge and cultural diversity may be understood by considering that ‘. . .in all regions of the world are found local communities. . . Associated with many of these communities is a. . .body of knowledge. . . These. . .sets of understandings. . .are part. . .of a cultural complex that encompasses language. . .and classification systems. . .ritual, spirituality and worldview’, at: Biological diversity may be defined as the ‘variation of life at all levels of biological...
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