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This module will critically explore the role of patents in the context of health-related technologies including, advanced biotechnologies. The module will commence by providing a foundation in how patent law operates, including the criteria for patentability of novelty, inventive step and industrial application. The module will then discuss the role of international treaties in the patent law context, and particularly the impact of the TRIPS Agreement.
Having examined such foundational issues, the module will then explore the impact of patents on access to and use of health-related technologies, examining contemporary issues including: patents and access to medicines, patents and the human body (including, issues such as: patents related to human embryonic stem cells, patents and implantable medical devices, patents and isolated elements of the human body, such as genes), and patents related to personalised medicines. It will consider the potential role of licensing in ameliorating ethical issues arising in such contexts. It will also consider the role of exclusions from patentability, and the extent to which such exclusions take into account or fail to take account ethical issues posed by patents on health-related technologies. Issues examined in this latter context, include the role of the morality provisions in patent law, exclusions against patents on diagnostic methods, and the research exemption.
Any aspect of this module may be changed in any given academic year, subject to the discretion of the module lecturer.