It relates to distinctive words or symbols applied to products or services by manufacturers and helps to distinguish the goods of different companies. In biotechnology, the laboratory equipments, and some of the vectors useful in recombinant research are known by their trademarks. The public makes use of these trade works in order to choose whose goods they will have to buy. Trademark laws vary in every country and through agreement it is ensured that the trademark of one country must be protected in another country.

In order to grant a patent status and to formulate the reasonable rules and laws pertaining to patency, there has been a lot of international co-operation  between various member countries through international conventions, meetings and workshops. “The Paris Convention” also known as "The International Convention for the protection of Industrial Property" was signed in 1883 which laid down the rules for the first filling of a patent application, it’s basis of priority based on the date of filling the application etc. The text of the Paris convention was modified many times later on.

The Strasbourg Convention also known as “Convention on the unification of certain points of substantive law on Patents for invention “(1963) formulated the common requirement for the patentability of an invention. The patent laws formulated during their convention need the basic requirement before an invention is to be patented e.g. the invention must be (a) new, (b) inventive, (c) industrially applicable.

The “Patent Co-operation Treaty”(PCT) was signed in 1970 and is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) based in Geneva. Patent applications filed under PCTs are first processed by WIPO before being formally introduced into designated national systems. The patents granted by PCT are treated as International patent. The patent applications are processed by the WIPO which processes the patent application in an “International phase”. The international phase has concerns with: (a) formal preliminaries, (b) art search, (c) publication of patent application.

The European Patent Convention (EPC) was signed in Oct, 1973 which established the European Patent Organization as a legal entity comprising the European Patent Office and an Administrative Council as its two organs. This provides for a single patent application to be processed before the European Patent Office. After grant, the patent becomes the European Patent, and called as “a bundle of national patents” in each member state as such. Then it is designated as the European Patent (UK), European Patent (France), and so on. The EPC is credited to introduce to its patent statute the provisions for biotechnology inventions. The two important provisions are:

(a) the need of “Culture Collections” as patent depositories for the placement of microorganisms referred to in patent application.
(b) Exclusion of certain inventions of plants and animal research through classical methods, from list of patents.

The Budapest Treaty (1980) provides for the recognition of culture collections at International Depository Authorities (IDA), in any of which a new strain of microorganism can be deposited for the purposes of a patent application in any member state. The strains which can serve the purpose of scientific community or society are accepted. These can be procured if required in future to work in Industry or research. The strains which are deposited are allocated an accession number, accession date, source of isolation and specific function. The purpose of convention of Budapest Treaty was to provide International Recognition of Microorganisms’ for the purpose of patent procedure.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)

The WIPO is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations and has provided guidelines for the intellectual property and intellectual property rights especially for the following:

a) Scientific works, artistic and literary works, innovation in all fields of human endeavor, scientific discoveries, trade marks, industrial design, protection against unfair competition, and all other rights resulting from intellectual activity in the area of industrial, scientific, literary or artistic fields.

b) The intellectual property is protected by and governed by appropriate national legislation. The national legislation specifically describes the inventions which are the subject matter of protection and those which are excluded from a protection, e.g. methods of treatment of humans or therapy and invention whose use would be contrary to law or invention which are injurious to public health are excluded from patentability.

These efforts at International level will ensure that the ethical issues related to application of biotechnology in agriculture and health care are addressed properly at different forums. A combined International approach will help us to assess the risk of using and releasing genetically engineered plants and animals in the environment, the use of recombinant microorganisms in commercial ventures and the use of transgenic species etc.

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