University of Gothenburg
The increase in patents connected to marine bioprospecting raises questions on the applicability of existing law to these activities.
The Law of the Sea prescribes in what maritime zones coastal and other states can exploit economic resources. In domestic law states have developed access and management rules for resources under their sovereignty, including for marine scientific research. In the high seas, an open-access regime remains in spite of negotiations at the UN. The legality of bioprospecting in these areas is disputed. Patent law seems to disregard this regime. The patentability of inventions related to marine bioprospecting varies across jurisdiction. Whereas some states refuse biotech patents connected to bioprospecting in certain areas, others accept them. Similarly, patent criteria vary broadly. For developers, this highlights the importance of evaluating legal implications of the location for bioprospecting sampling.
This research project aims to investigate the ambiguity in the legal framework for marine bioprospecting and propose regulatory recommendations.