The emergence of modern biotechnology has brought forth many legal characterizations and treatment of trade related biotechnological processes and produces, popularly described as Intellectual Property. Intellectual Property Protection (IPP) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are the two unique facets of any Bio-patency. Intellectual property includes 'patents', 'trade secrets', 'copy rights' and 'trade marks' obtained for processes and products created through one's own knowledge and research.
The right to protect this property prohibits others from making copying using or selling these processes and products. In this era of biotechnology, one of the most important examples of intellectual property is the creation of organisms containing new recombinant DNA. Another example of Intellectual property is the new crop varieties, which are protected through 'Plant Breeder's Rights' or PBR's. The plant breeder who developed this new variety enjoys the exclusive right for marketing the variety.
Patenting of important crops and animal breeds may bring down a shortfall in genetic resources. One of the major negative aspects of bio- patency is that it may lead to scarcity of genetic resources. In addition, majority of the people may not have access to certain rare genetic resources protected by Bio-patency laws.
People argue that giving patent rights to transgenic plants and transgenic animals is a wrongful idea as these patents will work as impediments in free exchange of genetic materials for improvement of crops and livestock.
Intellectual Property Rights may also adversely affect the following:
Food security, use of evolved agricultural practices, biological diversity and ecological balance and livelihood of the poor in developing countries.
The Indian Patent Act of 1970 allows process patents, but no product patents for foods, chemicals drugs and pharmaceuticals. Duration of patent in India is 5 years. Under USA law, a patent means grant of 'right to exclude others from making, using or selling' an invention for a 17 year period. To day, many favour the patenting of inventions arising from basic research. Patents are granted as per the law of the State and are also disputed in the court of Law whenever complaints of infringement of the patents are violated by the people. In 1980, the discovery of an oil eating bacterium (Pseudomonas) by a non-resident Indian Scientist (Dr. Chakrabarty) was patented in USA by a multinational Corporation.
Similarly, an 'oncomouse' was also patented. All this means that life forms could be patented.