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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6908

Senator STOTT DESPOJA (10:46 PM) —As a process issue, I am wondering whether Senator Murphy should just draft his amendment and then we could have this debate at another point in time. I also want to put my views on the record. I did not have time to anticipate what Senator Murphy was referring to. Senator Murphy says that the Patents Act does not deal with this or that there may be deficiencies in relation to this area of research. Of course the Patents Act is, by necessity, general. It is a broad-ranging piece of legislation. The characteristics which define your success in an application for a patent are `novel' and `inventive'. I think, off the top of my head, that is the actual wording in the law. I am not sure that it necessarily has to specify any particular type of research or scientific discovery. I imagine it works in parallel with the Patents Act. I am not quite sure about the issue of it being overridden, but perhaps that is something we can get advisers to look into.

But I would still imagine that anyone would have to satisfy the criteria of inventiveness and novelty under patent law. Hence the argument of some of us that genes and gene sequences are, by their very nature, unique and novel and therefore they should not be patented. That is not to say, as I have said previously, that the processes by which you derive information about a cure or the purposes for which you use those genes cannot be patented, because that is novel and inventive or unique. But our actual genes and our gene sequences should not be patented at all. I would be curious to get some information on this, but my understanding is that it should not necessarily hold up this debate per se, because I am not quite sure if the implications for the Patents Act are such that they need necessarily hold up the debate in relation to clause 24 on licensing or indeed clause 18 now. With all due respect, if Senator Murphy wants to draw up the amendment and have a debate, bring it on. I think it would be a very interesting one. I would be more than happy to amend the Patents Act, as I have said many times before.