IP Protection for Biotechnologies and Other Technologies






In this seminar we will take a closer look at how and why biotechnological inventions play not only an important but also somewhat different role than other areas of patent law. The seminar is structured in the following manner:

In a first section, the dichotomy invention – discovery is analysed and critically discussed;

In a second section, we move to what we call “white biotech”, with special emphasis on human and related biotechnological inventions. Within that section, the following topics are scrutinised:

  • The patentability of human genes and related, their scope of protection (absolute versus purpose limited protection) and the consequences of such scope for technical innovation. This is quite a substantive subject as it not only discusses patentability issues as such but it also links in with issues of innovation policy;
  • The patentability of genetic diagnostic tests and the various issues arising from such (non-) patentability. In an age of personalised medicine, this issue gains importance. Once again, the discussion transcends patentability as such, but covers also issues of public policy, stimulation of innovation and governance issues;
  • An overview is given of the concept of ordre public and morality and the exclusion from patentability of various categories of inventions. Special attention is given to the issues of embryonic stem cells;
  • We further also discuss scope of protection for biotechnological inventions. As we deal with biological material, capable of self-replication or being replicated in a biological system, traditional scope of protection rules required further clarification. In this connection we discuss the ramifications and consequences of such new rules.
  • Finally, this section concludes with a discussion of how the biotech era has influenced the parameters of other patentability requirements of inventive step and industrial application and vice versa.

In a third section, we move to what is called “green biotech” where the patentability of plant related innovations is discussed. Key topics covered here are the following:

  • The distinction between plants and plant varieties and the patentability of the former and non-patentability of the latter;
  • The non-patentability of essentially biological processes for the production of plants: we analyse what such processes encompass and try to identify the parameters of the exclusion;
  • In a logical further step, we try to unravel whether the plants obtained by such essentially biological processes can then be patentable subject matter in their own right and why (not);
  • We continue the discussion by zooming into scope of protection rules and specific exemptions for the “green biotech” sector such as famers’ privilege and the breeders’ exemption;
  • An all embracing theme within this section is to discuss critically the position of patenting plant related innovation in a globalised world and policy issues as to whether for instance plant related innovations should be patented in the first place.

This seminar is indispensable for everyone who wants to work efficiently in a patent law environment in private practice and/or in industry as it covers most issues of discussion and controversy in an area of technology which is becoming more and more important in today’s society.

Liege Competition and Innovation Institute
University of Liege (ULg)
Quartier Agora
Place des Orateurs, 1, Bât. B 33
BE-4000 Liege

Phone: +32 4 366.31.30
Fax: +32 4 366.31.55
E-Mail: lcii@ulg.ac.be