Biotechnology and patent law
This article looks at the impact of biotechnology on traditional patent law. The author argues that biotechnological inventions have unique features, which makes it difficult to use the usual patterns of (legal and factual) interpretation. He stresses that biotech inventions have a sui generis status because (i) biotech products and processes – as opposed to other inventions - relate to living matter and (ii) biotechnology is one of the most R&D-intensive areas. In particular, the author argues that traditional patent rules must be interpreted in a different and more indulgent way when it comes to the patentability of biotech inventions. This entails that the patentability threshold for biotech products and processes is lower than in other fields of technology. It also entails that biotech patents accord to their patentees a wider scope of exclusive rights. However, said lowering and widening have the same purpose, i.e. to give biotech investors and inventors a more favourable legal treatment.