Proprietary biotechnology inputs and international agricultural research

Proprietary biotechnology inputs and international agricultural research

A study into the use of inputs protected by IPR at selected international agricultural research centers

This Briefing Paper presents the most important findings and lessons of a study into the magnitude of, and procedures for, the use of inputs protected by IPR at selected international agricultural research centers (IARCs). It highlights the challenging environment in which agricultural research organisations are working with regard to biotechnology. As such, it documents the situations that these institutions face regarding the use and dissemination of products resulting from proprietary science where rights are held by others.

The survey findings indicate a pressing need for establishing competent legal expertise in issues of proprietary rights for the CGIAR centers and their NARO partners.

Based on the lessons of the study, it proposes seven recommendations:

  • CGIAR centers and NAROs may wish to acknowledge the use of proprietary technologies and materials in their research programs as one means of demonstrating collaboration and highlighting the scale of such contributions
  • the CGIAR should foster greater IPR awareness by developing systemwide expertise for managing intellectual property, providing an economy of scale for the individual centers. No center alone can afford to establish in-house capacity, and the CGIAR could negotiate much stronger collectively. A central facility would also help keep centers aware of changes in national IPR positions
  • where several centers are using the same proprietary tools, it may be advantageous to collaborate in the acquisition of such technologies
  • MTA experiences and conditions should be analysed and exchanged among centers and NARO partners, possibilities for standard formats could be explored and legal implications determined regarding possible restrictions on use and dissemination
  • given the range of proprietary technologies being used and the potential for limited protection sought for IARC developments, guidelines for managing intellectual property at individual centers should be reviewed, and possibilities for a systemwide policy or guidelines considered
  • consistent, systemwide legal advice is urgently needed, given the limited familiarity with the implications of using proprietary technology, the fact that some of inputs have global utility, and that some of these applications will become available to NARS, NGOs and other partners through new products
  • immediate legal advice must be arranged for those applications of proprietary tools for which permission for use is unclear

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