Biological Samples and the Criterion of Patents: An Ethical-Legal Approach

Prof. Abdul Hafeez Oskin
Professor of Bioethics – Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of law – University of Oran – Vice President of Disability Observatory – Occupational Rehabilitation and Health Ethics – Algeria


This study deals with both the legal and ethical aspects of the issue of the increased use of biological samples, and attempts to answer several questions in this area, including whether the «commodification» of the living through patents and its dimensions such as the right of ownership is a fantasy or a legal fact. Subjugation of the organism to the patent system means recognizing that each living component can be owned by a natural person or institution (laboratory, university, state …). And therefore, are patents that are regulated by commercial law and intellectual property law designed to protect industrial inventions the same as those patents that apply to the human body? Does the owner of the biological sample have the right to be recognized as a partner in the investment prospects provided by the research project based on his/her biological samples? And what is his/her share of the resulting benefits?
The research is based on the analysis of the evolution of the problems raised by the topic on the historical and comparative approaches by using several judicial applications in Europe and the United States of America. It concludes that the right of patents in the field of forensic specimens had become a reality and its commercial uses had increased, and recommends that professional organizations and civil society organizations take action to review and regulate the possession of the gene.
Keywords: Organism, natural heritage, gene, intellectual property right, bioethics

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