International IP Protection For GMO – A Biotech Odyssey

by Clemens Kerle

8 Colum. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 147 (2007) (Published April 30, 2007)


This paper deals with IP protection for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) under the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). It outlines the potential of GMOs and shows why effective patent protection is a necessary prerequisite for research in this area. It argues that the TRIPs minimum requirements do not mandate sufficient standards for GMO patents – they do not require patent protection for most biotechnological inventions. Subsequently, it explores the consequences of this lack of harmonization. Employing salient arguments for and against IP-harmonization, it demonstrates that harmonized effective patent protection for GMOs confers significant advantages on the participating countries, but hardly any disadvantages. Moreover, it indicates that effective IPRs mitigate the more widespread use of Genetic Use Restriction Technology(ies) (GURTs). It concludes with showing why multilateral harmonization is necessary and why developing countries are deterred from unilaterally raising the standard of IP protection for GMOs.

About the Author

Clemens Kerle: Research fellow at the Institute for Public International Law and International Relations at the Johannes Kepler University of Linz, Austria.

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