12 February 2015

Synbio and intellectual property rights: 6 recommendations

NEW Publication

On 26th November 2013, the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation organized an expert meeting on “Synthetic Biology & Intellectual Property Rights” in Copenhagen sponsored by the European Research Area Network in Synthetic Biology (ERASynBio). The meeting brought together ten experts from different countries with a variety of professional backgrounds to discuss emerging challenges and opportunities at the interface of synthetic biology and intellectual property rights. The aim of this article is to provide a summary of the major issues and recommendations discussed during the meeting.

The ERASynBio consortium consists of 16 governmental funding bodies from 12 EU Member States (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, and UK) and two Associated Countries (Norway and Switzerland)

Timo Minssen, Berthold Rutz and Esther van Zimmeren: Synthetic biology and intellectual property rights: Six recommendation. (2015) Biotechnology Journal Special Issue: Synthetic Biology Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 236–241

RECOMMENDATION 1 – Empirical Evidence and Open Source Software Tools

Develop cheap, easy-to-use open source software tools to map the patent landscape and provide FTO analysis tailored to the particular needs of the SB community in order to properly determine the actual impact of IPRs on SB.

RECOMMENDATION 2 – Use of Public Domain Tools

Encourage and enable scientists to employ tools unencumbered by IPRs for developing foundational technologies in SB

RECOMMENDATION 3 – Patent Quality and Transparency

Establish collaborations between the SB community, patent offices and other government agencies to improve the quality of issued patents and increase transparency of patent ownership.

RECOMMENDATION 4 – Best Licensing Practices

Adopt and promote guidelines and best practices in licensing SB inventions for foundational technologies.

RECOMMENDATION 5 – Private Ordering Mechanisms

Explore opportunities for private ordering mechanisms to improve transparency of ownership and facilitate licensing

RECOMMENDATION 6 – Legislative and Regulatory Changes

Explore the need/options for further legislative and regulatory changes in order to facilitate R&D and innovation in SB, while at the same time protecting the enforceability of well-defined patent claims on the use of genetically encoded functions and concrete applications in industry, health care and agriculture


Associate Professor Timo Minssen is member of the Center for Synthetic Biology Steering Group. His research evolves around intellectual property law and innovation law and how it applies in relation to synthetic biology