Part A. Introduction

Chapter 1 provides an introduction and background to the Report, and includes details of the Inquiry’s research and public consultation efforts. The chapter outlines the scope of the Inquiry, noting those matters that were regarded as falling outside the Terms of Reference. Chapter 2 outlines the patent system—its historical origins, the function of patents, and the basic criteria for patentability. The chapter also examines the economic benefits derived from the patent system, and factors that may counteract these economic benefits in some situations. Chapter 3 describes the subject matter of gene patents. The chapter identifies four broad categories of ‘genetic materials and technologies’ and provides a chronology of developments in gene patenting. The chapter summarises the social and ethical concerns about gene patenting—including concerns raised by Indigenous communities—and explains the overall approach taken by the Inquiry in recommending reform.