Group argues for patent ruling on DNA

March 24, 1995

Patents should not be given on DNA sub-sequences which have no known practical application, according to a report on intellectual property and its impact on the academic community published yesterday.

The study, by the National Academies Policy Advisory Group, admits that one drawback would be that those who discover DNA sub-sequences or sequences will be under pressure not to present them to relevant databanks until they have investigated potential applications.

Despite this, the group argues that its caution is justified: "Patents should not be allowed on discoveries because exclusive rights might well be conferred on a range of practical applications, the scale of which has not even begun to be uncovered."

The report says a ruling is necessary even though a patent might induce more extensive work at greater speed on applications of the discovery.

NAPAG, which comprises the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Academy and The Conference of Medical Royal Colleges, stresses the importance to universities of the legally binding freedom to use a patented invention for experimental purposes.

This is coming under pressure in areas such as medical research and may require compulsory licensing powers's scope under the Patents Act to be widened.

Intellectual property is also becoming more important to universities because industrial exploitation of ideas from academic research is more common.

The study says that public bodies which provide grants or research facilities should share in the revenue from patented inventions with the researchers.

NAPAG adds: "In universities it should be put beyond question that academics retain ownership of copyright in their writings and other works so that they may publish them when and where they wish without control by their institutions."

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

Cricket player and umpire exchanging bribe

The need to accommodate foreign students undermines domestic practices, says Lincoln Allison, spying parallels between UK universities and global sports bodies such as Fifa