Intellectual property rights over genetic materials and genetic and related technologies

1. I, DARYL WILLIAMS, Attorney-General of Australia, following consultation with the Commonwealth Biotechnology Ministerial Council, and having regard to:

  • the objective of the protection of intellectual property rights to contribute to the promotion of technological innovation, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations
  • the rapid advances in human genome research and genetic and related technologies which potentially can aid in improving the quality of life of all Australians by contributing to Australia’s economic development and by improving human health; and
  • the economic, legal, technological, ethical, and access and equity issues relating to the intellectual property protection of genes and genetic and related technologies; and
  • the need to utilise modern genetic technologies to further Australia’s national interest, including such areas as agriculture and industry;
  • the trade and investment issues relating to the intellectual property protection of genes and genetic and related technologies; and
  • international practices and developments, including any existing or proposed international obligations;

REFER to the Australian Law Reform Commission for inquiry and report under the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 the following matters, with a particular focus on human health issues:

  1. the impact of current patenting laws and practices—including licensing—related to genes and genetic and related technologies on:
    (i) the conduct of research and its subsequent application and commercialisation;
    (ii) the Australian biotechnology sector; and
    (iii) the cost-effective provision of healthcare in Australia;
  2. what changes, if any, may be required to address any problems identified in current laws and practices, with the aim of encouraging the creation and use of intellectual property to further the health and economic benefits of genetic research and genetic and related technologies; and
  3. any other relevant matter.

2.  In performing its functions in relation to this reference the Commission shall ensure widespread public consultation, and identify and consult with key stakeholders, including relevant government agencies, the research community, the health and medical sector, the biotechnology sector, and industry bodies.

3. The Commission is to report to the Attorney-General by 30 June 2004.

Dated 17 December 2002

Daryl Williams
ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Published on 28 June 2010. Last modified on 30 July 2012.