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World IP head tackles biotech patents

World IP head tackles biotech patents article image
Dr Francis Gurry, director general of the World Intellectual Property Organisation, yesterday addressed growing concerns about gene patents, speaking on The Law Report program on ABC Radio National. Gurry said WIPO was neutral on gene patents - the concept of owning and being able to commercialise genes - and that it was for each country to decide how to handle the issue. He did mention, however, that globalisation may put pressure on countries to take a particular path: "If you're not protecting things that [trading partners] regard to be extremely important, then they're obviously going to regard you as a less hospitable environment in which to invest." He added that investment in biotechnology, and the ability to balance commercial incentives with health benefits, is a key part of the industry. "On the one hand you want to encourage investment in these areas, and sometimes the investments are extremely heavy," said Gurry. "The pharmaceutical industry says it's about $1.3 billion to bring a new drug to the market. So you need to be able to protect that investment or nobody will make it. On the other hand, we're talking about inventions that improve the quality of life and improve health." Gurry, the highest ranked Australian in the United Nations structure, is in Australia this week to deliver a series of public lectures on IP’s global progress and topical issues including copyright in the digital age and IP education in developing countries. Hi final public lecture will be tomorrow, details below. Australian Copyright Council National Conference Keynote Address The Future of Copyright Where: National Gallery of Australia John Fairfax Theatre Parkes Place Parkes ACT When: 2pm-3.30pm Thursday, August 6 For further details, refer to the venue.

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