Implications of the Gene Technology (Precision Breeding) Bill on the Life Sciences Intellectual Property Industry

The Gene Technology (Precision Farming) Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, aims to take advantage of the from the United Kingdom post-Brexit position to make the UK a beacon for agri-food research and innovation by providing a more relaxed set of regulations regarding the release and commercialization of genetically modified plants and animals.

The implications of this for the life sciences intellectual property sector were discussed in a article for Life Sciences Intellectual Property Review. Senior Partner of Dehns (Life Sciences), Dan Roweprovided its expert opinion on the matter.

In Dan’s view, the proposed legislation represents a welcome attempt to reduce the regulatory burden on organizations seeking to invent and develop genetically modified organisms that could also be created by traditional breeding techniques, albeit much more laborious. The risks associated with these organisms are significantly lower than those of conventional genetically modified organisms and therefore research on these organisms should not be stifled by the strict regulations now rightly in place for conventional GMOs. Dan thinks the proposed legislation needs more work to ensure only the safest genetically modified organisms are encompassed, but he thinks it should be within the reach of careful lawmakers.

If all goes as planned, the UK should see an explosion of investment in the research and development of genetically modified organisms. This should lead to a commensurate increase in associated intellectual property, and momentum to protect that intellectual property will follow. The Gene Technology (Precision farming) The Bill does not currently address this situation and, unless this changes, stakeholders in this potentially burgeoning situation UK industry will need to rely on existing legal frameworks to protect its new intellectual property.

Today, genetically modified plants and animals and the processes that create them are, at least in principle, eligible for patent protection and such plants may be the subject of plant breeders’ rights (also called plant breeders’ rights). plant variety). As such, the types of organizations to which this bill relates should benefit from some form of IP protection in the UK. That being the general case, Dan went on to point out that obtaining patent protection for genetically modified plants and animals is not always straightforward, however, and he foresees enforceability issues for types of organisms contemplated by the bill, i.e. those which are intended to be obtained by traditional processes and/or which could potentially arise naturally. Furthermore, such gene editing processes may often result in new varieties rather than having cross-species applicability. Therefore, plant variety protection may become the protection of choice in the specific plant sector of industry. However, there are no equivalent rights for animal varieties and, in future, the UK the government could be pressured by industry to introduce such a system. It would be the first of its kind in the world.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

M Daniel RoweDehns
House of the Holy Bride
10 Salisbury Place
Tel: 207632 7200
Fax: 207353 8895

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