Department of Bioengineering; Institute for Biotechnology & Bioengineering; Instituto Superior Tecnico; Lisbon, Portugal
Ananda M. Chakrabarty
Corresponding author: email@example.com
Department of Microbiology & Immunology; University of Illinois College of Medicine; Chicago, IL USA
Patents are issued essentially by all countries on inventions that are deemed novel, non-obvious, clearly described and of significant utility or industrial application. The only exceptions to patenting an invention are abstract ideas, laws of nature and natural phenomena, although the exceptions vary depending on countries where moral, public order or human rights considerations are also taken into account. Although patent laws are updated over decades, the rapid progress of science creates situations that the patent laws on the book cannot address, leading to contentious legal issues. This is often true for life saving drugs, particularly drugs for cancers or HIV/AIDS, which are expensive and beyond the reach of poor people because of the proprietary positions of these patented drugs. Another contentious issue is the patent eligibility of human genes and mutations that are often thought of nature's contribution to human health and propagation and should be beyond the reach of patentability. In this review, we address some of these current legal issues and their implications for the development of diagnostic methods, therapeutic interventions and even prevention for cancer, a scourge of mankind.
Received: August 22, 2012; Accepted: August 22, 2012; Published Online: September 6, 2012