Gene Cartels: Biotech Patents in the Age of Free Trade

ISBN: 9781847208361
Publisher: Edward Elgar Pub
Publication Date: 2009-05
Number of pages: 394
  • $157.10

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`It's really excellent: an invaluable source of information and highly readable too.'
- Sir John Sulston, University of Manchester, UK and Winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

`Gene Cartels is a truly magisterial and important book. It shows how we need to bring together the discrete threads around intellectual property law (ie patent, copyright, etc) so there can be a clear spotlight on the important public policy issues.'
- Terry Cutler, Principal, Cutler & Company and Chair, Review of the National Innovation System, Australia

`. . . provides an estimable addition to a growing library of texts diagnosing the maladies of the existing IPR system and offering well attested cures. [It] demands the widest possible readership not just amongst the IPR community, but amongst economists and social scientists, policy officials in both developed and developing countries, and business people everywhere.'
- John A. Mathews, LUISS Guido Carli University, Italy

`Gene Cartels is a valuable book for the scientist providing, in an elegantly scholarly style, deep insights into the origins, history, evolution and current status of patent systems. It also discloses features that can lead, in effect, to a misuse of power.'
- From the foreword by Baruch S. Blumberg, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania, US and Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1976

Starting with the 13th century, this book explores how patents have been used as an economic protectionist tool, developing and evolving to the point where thousands of patents have been ultimately granted not over inventions, but over isolated or purified biological materials. DNA, invented by no man and once thought to be `free to all men and reserved exclusively to none', has become cartelized in the hands of multinational corporations. The author questions whether the continuing grant of patents can be justified when they are now used to suppress, rather than promote, research and development in the life sciences.

Luigi Palombi demonstrates that patents are about inventions and not isolated biological materials, which consequently have no bona fide purpose in the innovations of biotechnological science. This book will be important reading for anyone who has an interest in the role that patents have played in economic development - particularly historians, economists and scientists. It will also be of great interest to law academics, lawyers, judges and policymakers.

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