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Institute welcomes bill to ‘raise the bar’ on gene patent laws


The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has welcomed a new bill proposing reforms to Australia's patenting laws.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has welcomed news of a legislative bill being introduced to parliament today proposing reforms to Australia’s patenting laws.

The new bill aims to bring Australian intellectual property (IP) laws into line with world’s best practice, and will address many of the legitimate community concerns about IP laws and gene patenting in Australia.

The proposed changes include raising the standard for ‘inventiveness’ required for patenting any biological materials, and clarifies a broad research exemption from patent infringement that enhances innovation and improves sharing of information on patented materials.

The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Bill 2011 was tabled in parliament today by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator The Honourable Kim Carr. The changes to Australia’s intellectual property laws proposed in the bill were developed by IP Australia in consultation with many parties, including the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Dr Julian Clark, head of Business Development at the institute, said the improvements would ensure that Australia’s intellectual property system is more aligned with global best practice.

“The institute has, for a long time now, supported the building of a stronger, more efficient and competitive patent rights system in Australia,” Dr Clark said.

“Importantly, this bill addresses several major issues that have been raised in the Senate inquiry into gene patents, including raising the bar for inventiveness, and removing the concern that some researchers have expressed about the possibility that they are infringing on patents with their research activities. It will also improve the efficiency of Australia’s patent system.”

Dr Clark said that the new ‘Raising the Bar’ bill addresses legitimate community concerns about gene patenting much better than the Patent Amendment (Human Genes & Biological Materials) Bill 2010, which was seeking to amend the Australian Patents Act 1990 such that the patenting of human genes, the natural products they produce and all biological materials and their derivatives was prohibited.

“We are in absolute agreement with the community and the private members who are supporting the patent amendment bill that a stand-alone DNA sequence of natural origin and without invention and utility should not be patented.”

Institute director Professor Doug Hilton said the ‘Raising the Bar’ bill would raise industry standards on patenting without jeopardising human health and the development of new treatments for disease.

“Patents are vital to attracting investment in the discovery and development of new therapies and vaccines due to the extremely high costs associated with development and natural rate of failure,” Professor Hilton said. “We are excited about helping to make Australia a supportive environment for drug development and the new and innovative therapeutics and treatments that are to come.”

For further information

Penny Fannin
Strategic Communications Manager
Ph: +61 3 9345 2345
Mob: 0417 125 700
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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