patents and trademarks

JOSEPH E. LAFERRIERE josephl at AZTEC.ASU.EDU
Tue Feb 4 06:37:25 CST 1997


I can understand a company wanting to patent an organism it has
genetically engineered in order to protect its profits. But to
make the name a registered trademark is another matter. A
couple questions arise:

1) Is the name validly published? I am unfamiliar with the
zoological and microbiological rules, but in botany a name
must be published in a place readily accessible to the
general public or at least to any botanist who wishes to
read it. A company could certainly start its own newsletter
for this specific purpose, but the ICBN specifically
rules out publication in commercial seed catalogues.

2) What are systematists supposed to call the thing if
they are not allowed to use the name without permission?
Is someone doing a monograph on the genus required to
pay royalties to use the name?

The comparison between a species name and the name of
a cultivar of an established species is inappropriate.
The reason for registering cultivar names as trademarks
is to prevent another breeder from using the same name
for a different strain. At the species level, the
priority rules have the same effect, rendering the
legal registration unnecessary.
   In short, I am appalled at the idea of companies
being allowed to patent species names, and I believe
the systematics community should speak out against
the practice.

--
Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere, 4717 E First St., Tucson AZ 85711 USA
520-326-4868
JosephL at aztec.asu.edu




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