International Conference to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Biotechnology Directive

by | Sep 26, 2023 | News

On 14th and 15th September 2023, an international conference organised by Professor Naomi Hawkins (University of Sheffield), Professor Aisling McMahon (Maynooth University) and Dr Karen Walsh (Maynooth University) was held in Maynooth University to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Biotechnology Directive. This Directive was adopted in 1998 and remains the main piece of legislation setting out the EU’s approach to the patentability of biotechnological inventions.

This two-day conference featured topical papers and discussions which assessed the role, operation, and impact of the Biotechnology Directive 25 years after its adoption, including assessing its legal, ethical, and social implications for the patentability of biotechnological inventions. The event brought together papers by twelve authors over the two days, examining a range of contemporary issues including: the institutional relationship between the European Patent Organisation and the EU in the interpretation of the Directive; approaches to the patentability of contemporary biotechnologies; questions around how the Directive has been interpreted to respond to ethical issues posed by the patentability and development of emerging technologies; the interaction between patent law and competition law; questions around the patentability of plants and around the role of compulsory licensing within the Directive. Speakers and attendees focused on current and likely future challenges to the application of the Directive around the patentability of emerging biotechnological inventions, over two days of engaging and lively discussions.

These 12 speakers comprised patent law scholars and practitioners at all career stages, from across Europe, namely: Dr Mike Adcock, Durham University; Dr Rob Aerts, Patent Attorney, ADM Germany GmbH, Hamburg; Mihail Dishev, PhD Candidate, University of Edinburgh; Dr Mary Dobbs, Maynooth University; Professor Naomi Hawkins, University of Sheffield; Dr Mina Hosseini, University College Dublin; Dr Ana Nordberg, Lund University; Dr Luke McDonagh, London School of Economics; Professor Aisling McMahon, Maynooth University; Dr Ella O’Sullivan, South East Technological University; Dr Karen Walsh, Maynooth University; Professor Esther van Zimmeren, University of Antwerp.

The organisers are planning a collection of papers which will be published following this event. The organisers are very grateful to Maynooth University School of Law and Criminology, and to the University of Sheffield Law School for generously supporting the event. This event was organised as part of the Patent Scholars Network, a network for the discussion of patent law issues founded by Professor Naomi Hawkins, Professor Aisling McMahon and Dr Karen Walsh. The Network was founded in 2019 and has since grown to over 40 members.

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