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Gene Cartels

Biotech Patents in the Age of Free Trade Luigi Palombi, Murdoch University, Australia
Starting with the 13th century, this book explores how patents have been used as an economic protectionist tool, developing and evolving to the point where thousands of patents have been ultimately granted not over inventions, but over isolated or purified biological materials. DNA, invented by no man and once thought to be ‘free to all men and reserved exclusively to none’, has become cartelised in the hands of multinational corporations. The author questions whether the continuing grant of patents can be justified when they are now used to suppress, rather than promote, research and development in the life sciences.
Extent: 416 pp
Hardback Price: $168.00 Web: $151.20
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN: 978 1 84720 836 1
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $78.00 Web: $62.40
Publication Date: 2010
ISBN: 978 1 84980 245 1
Availability: In Stock
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  • Environment
  • Biotechnology
  • Innovation and Technology
  • Biotechnology
  • Law - Academic
  • Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
Starting with the 13th century, this book explores how patents have been used as an economic protectionist tool, developing and evolving to the point where thousands of patents have been ultimately granted not over inventions, but over isolated or purified biological materials. DNA, invented by no man and once thought to be ‘free to all men and reserved exclusively to none’, has become cartelised in the hands of multinational corporations. The author questions whether the continuing grant of patents can be justified when they are now used to suppress, rather than promote, research and development in the life sciences.

Luigi Palombi demonstrates that patents are about inventions and not isolated biological materials, which consequently have no bona fide purpose in the innovations of biotechnological science. This book will be important reading for anyone who has an interest in the role that patents have played in economic development – particularly historians, economists and scientists. It will also be of great interest to law academics, lawyers, judges and policymakers.
‘Palombi has penned a strong critique of the abuse of the patent system by the biotech industry in its pursuit of monopoly rights over natural organisms and their parts and, in particular, over fragments of DNA. He argues that it is difficult to recognise such ownership as reflecting genuine novelty of human inventiveness. He shows through detailed exposition and analysis of cases how the patent system has been appropriated (in his words) to serve the interests of a narrow group of biotech, pharma and chemical interests; his book will serve as a clear statement as to why this is so damaging to real innovation and progress in a range of health-related topics.’
– John A. Mathews, Review of International Political Economy

‘It’s really excellent: an invaluable source of information and highly readable too.’
– Sir John Sulston, University of Manchester, UK and Winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

‘. . . this is a book that every policymaker even remotely connected to issues of patents, economics, and biotech should read. This book is essential ammunition for those who oppose gene patenting, and lays out the legal case expertly.’
– David Koepsell, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, reviewed in SCRIPTed

‘The book is of interest to judges, patent attorneys and lawyers and policy-makers in this field. . . The first part is a fascinating and well researched historical study of patenting. . . The second part of the book is interesting and the author raises some very important points. . . a very valuable contribution to the debate of the scope of patent monopolies.’
– David Rogers, Legal Member, Boards of Appeal, European Patent Office, Germany, reviewed in European Intellectual Property Review

‘Gene Cartels is a truly magisterial and important book. It shows how we need to bring together the discrete threads around intellectual property law (ie patent, copyright, etc) so there can be a clear spotlight on the important public policy issues.’
– Terry Cutler, Principal, Cutler & Company and Chair, Review of the National Innovation System, Australia

‘. . . provides an estimable addition to a growing library of texts diagnosing the maladies of the existing IPR system and offering well attested cures. [It] demands the widest possible readership not just amongst the IPR community, but amongst economists and social scientists, policy officials in both developed and developing countries, and business people everywhere.’
– John A. Mathews, LUISS Guido Carli University, Italy

‘Gene Cartels is a valuable book for the scientist providing, in an elegantly scholarly style, deep insights into the origins, history, evolution and current status of patent systems. It also discloses features that can lead, in effect, to a misuse of power.’
– From the foreword by Baruch S. Blumberg, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania, US and Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1976
Contents: Foreword by Baruch S. Blumberg Preface Part I: Monopolies in the Age of Free Trade 1. The Early History of Anglo-American Patent Systems 2. Patents and their Use in Economic Warfare 3. Patent Monopolies versus Free Trade 4. The Patent Systems of Continental Europe 5. The Internationalization and Harmonization of the Patent Systems Part II: The Patenting of Biological Materials: The Monopolization of Nature 6. The Isolation Contrivance 7. Anything Under the Sun Made by Man 8. The Invention of Nature? 9. Gene Wars 10. Synthetic Biology and a Time for Reflection Bibliography Index