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Professors, Crow discuss intellectual property


July 15, 2007

A new book touted as a “must read” for anyone dealing with intellectual property includes chapters by Gary Marchant and Dennis Karjala, professors at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, and by ASU President Michael Crow. The lead editor of the book was Anatole Krattiger of ASU’s Biodesign Institute.

“Intellectual Property Management in Health and Agricultural Innovation: A Handbook of Best Practices” offers information and strategies for using the power of intellectual property and the public domain. The two-volume set, published by the Centre for the Management of Intellectual Property in Health R&D and the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture, was released May 1.

In addition to editing the book, Krattiger, a principal investigator and research professor at the Biodesign Institute, also wrote or co-wrote more than a dozen of its chapters. In his work at the institute’s Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Krattiger focuses on the intellectual-property component of plant-derived pharmaceuticals. He also co-teaches a graduate course on controversies in biotechnology innovation in developing countries.

Marchant, executive director of the College’s Center for the Study of Law, Science & Technology, wrote the chapter “Genomics, Ethics and Intellectual Property.” In it, he discusses ethical concerns about patenting – which, in most cases, have not been incorporated into laws, leaving ethical issues largely unresolved. Marchant urges policy-makers, scientists and users of biotechnology to address these “ethical minefields” on a case-by-case basis to minimize controversy, disruption and opposition, while avoiding the paralysis of inaction.

Karjala, the Jack E. Brown Professor of Law and a center faculty fellow, wrote the chapter titled “Biotechnology Patents and Indigenous People” in the 1,998-page publication.

He writes about the problem of “biopiracy,” the commercial development of naturally occurring biological materials, such as plant substances, by a technologically advanced country or organization without fair compensation to the people or nations in whose territory the materials originally were discovered. Solving the problem, according to Karjala, requires ensuring that traditional information is fairly acquired and that fair compensation is made.

Karjala also emphasizes that patents on naturally occurring genes and gene products raise problems under traditional patent law on technical and policy grounds, as well as red-flagging ethical issues.

Crow and Peter J. Slate, until recently the chief executive officer of the Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE) at ASU, collaborated on the chapter “The New American University and the Role of ‘Technology Translation’: The Approach of Arizona State University.” They make the case that technology transfer and commercialization are economically and socially relevant, and they provide a case study that illustrates how work at AzTE has led to significant returns for the university and the local community.

The authors conclude that public and private institutions in developed and developing countries can implement the concepts and strategies for such technology commercialization.

For more information about the book, visit the Web site www.ipHandbook.org