Emerging technologies

Guidelines for the Licensing of Genetic Inventions

Biotechnology and genetics research have been the subject of extensive investment by both the public and private sectors, with the resulting products and processes making a significant and increasing contribution to human health and health care.

Biotechnological, including genetic, innovations have been the subject of intellectual property rights for many years. Over the last decade, as the number of such innovations has increased, their impact on health care has grown substantially. Recently, some governments, patient groups and healthcare providers have become concerned about how certain genetic inventions have, in certain circumstances, been licensed and exploited, particularly for diagnostic genetic services in the human health care field.

In order to address these concerns, OECD member countries agreed to Guidelines for the Licensing of Genetic Inventions used in health care. The Guidelines set out principles and best practices for those in business, research and health systems who enter into license agreements for genetic inventions used for the purpose of human health care. They are targeted at those involved with innovation and the provision of services in health, and particularly at those involved in the licensing of such inventions. Overall, the Guidelines seek to foster the objectives of stimulating genetic research and innovation while maintaining appropriate access to health products and services.