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Gene patenting and human health : discussion paper
Sydney: Law Reform Commission Australia
Series Part:
A. Introduction -- Part B. Patent Laws and Practice. -- Part C. Patents and Genetic Research -- Part D. Patents and commercialisation of biotechnology -- Part E. Patents and Human Health -- Part F. Licensing and commercial arrangements -- Part G. Non-Voluntary Use -- Part H. Other Intellectual Property Issues

On the 4 December 2002 the Australian Government announced that it would ask the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to conduct an Inquiry into intellectual property issues raised by genetic information. The Terms of Reference required the ALRC to examine the impact of patent laws and practices as they relate to 'genes and genetic and related technologies.' This was to be done in three contexts: the conduct of research and its subsequent application and commercialisation; the Australian biotechnology sector; and the cost-effective provision of healthcare. The ALRC was also asked to report on what changes may be required to address any problems that were 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.' In making its Inquiry, the ALRC was also to have regard to a number of considerations including: the role of intellectual property rights in promoting technological innovation; the potential for human genetics to improve the quality of life of all Australians; the ethical, legal and social issues arising from intellectual property in genes and genetic technologies; the national interest in using genetic technologies in agriculture and industry; trade and investment issues affecting intellectual property; and international obligations and practices, both existing and proposed.
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