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Patenting of microorganisms: Systems and concerns

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The Government of India permitted patenting of microorganisms in India under the Patents (Second Amendment) Bill, 2002, which was passed by the Parliament on 14 May 2002. The Government has so far granted very few patents for microorganisms, mainly on directives from courts. With the law permitting patenting of microorganisms, several private sector pharmaceutical companies and research institutions have filed applications for patenting microorganisms including fungi, bacteria and viruses. But there is still much debate on the advisability of allowing patenting of microorganisms in India. While the existing provisions in the patents bill permit patenting of certain life forms in line with the Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, there is still sufficient controversy regarding the term ‘microorganism’, which has not been clearly defined. This article discusses the evolution of the patenting systems in relation to microorganisms. The article also explores the feasibility of offering statutory protection to microorganisms that are genetically altered with significant human intervention on harmonized global patent systems and also elaborating on the need for a well-accepted definition of the term ‘microorganism’.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2010


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