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Human Genome Patents and Developing Countries

The UNESCO Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (1997) outlines the principle that human genome sequence information should be freely available to all countries. This report, by Sivaramjani Thambisetty, attempts to clarify what access really exists and questions to what extent national patent systems should be allowed to impinge on this international consensus.

The report discusses:

  • The possibility and implications of patenting of human genetic material taken from developing countries
  • Patenting and informed consent of participants in genetic research
  • The relevance of community consultation and consent
  • Benefit sharing with the research participant
  • Patent laws in developed countries with respect to informed consent and benefit sharing
  • Post-grant control over use of a patent
  • Developing countries and patent protection for human genetic material

    The author suggests that merely making the human genome sequence available on the Internet satisfies the principle only in letter and not in spirit, and concludes that the relevance and implementation of UNESCO’s Declaration should now be reviewed. The report was commissioned as a background paper for the UK Commission in Intellectual Property Rights.
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