October 14, 2002
The European Commission
has published (10th October) its first annual report on the
development and implications of patent law for biotechnology and
genetic engineering. "EuropaBio has been looking forward to this
report which is an important part of the legal requirements of
the biotech patent directive (98/44)," says Bo Hammer Jensen,
Chairman of the Intellectual Property Working Group at
EuropaBio - the European
Association of Bioindustries.
The report highlights four key provisions of this directive
(compatibility with international agreements, patentability of
plants and animals, the patentability of elements isolated from
the human body or otherwise produced and the exclusions from
patentability provided in Article 6 of the Directive). It is
intended to accelerate implementation of the directive in all
Member States. The report also comments on some of the
controversial issues currently under discussion in the Member
The report affirms the view of EuropaBio that these issues do
not provide any basis for delaying the implementation.
EuropaBio and its members participated constructively in the 10
year long debate with Parliament and Council that led to the
approval in 1998 of this directive. "These issues were all under
consideration during the review of the directive, and it is high
time now that this important tool for protecting our innovations
is put in place in all Member States," says Hugo Schepens,
EuropaBio Secretary General. "If future annual reports identify
specific problem areas, these problems can then be dealt with."
The report identifies two questions for more detailed analysis:
- the scope of patents for
sequences or partial-sequences of genes isolated from the
- the patentability of human
stem cells and cell lines obtained from them.
In preparation of the next report
in 2003, these topics will be studied and analysed by a group of
independent experts to be established this November. The group
will also support the Commission in identifying priority topics
to be dealt with in future reports. EuropaBio welcomes this
offers its cooperation to the group.
"EuropaBio is supportive of Commission efforts in urging those
Member States that have not yet implemented the directive to do
so immediately" says Hugo Schepens. "More than two years past
the implementation deadline, only six countries have done so.
Entrepreneurs and researchers in the EU need the best and
simplest patenting tools possible. Without them, you cannot be
serious about the knowledge-based economy."
Commission report can be downloaded at: