The Fridtjof Nansen Institute
About FNI 
News & events 


Intellectual Property Rights to Genetic Resources: Prospects for a Sui Generis Path for Developing Countries

The project 'Intellectual property rights to genetic resources' is the doctoral thesis of Senior Research Fellow Morten Walløe Tvedt. The subject matter for this project is law regulating exclusive individual rights to genetic resources. A core issue is the distributive effects from individualised rights, as patents and plant breeders' rights, between persons and among developing and developed countries. On this background the project looks at possible ways to implement a sui generis-system as an alternative to patents. The main research tasks are as follows:

1) To overview the international legal situation when it comes to patents to non-human genes and related techniques. This includes identifying issues in patent law that are particularly relevant to discuss when the subject matter for the intellectual property rights is living organisms.

2) A discussion in legal philosophy regarding the general justification and legitimisation of the patent system applies equally when the subject matter for patent protection is broadened to cover living subject matters.

3) Discuss and clarify the room of manoeuvre and explore options for developing countries under the current obligations in the TRIPS agreement Article 27 (with particular focus on plant varieties and a side look at other subject matters within the scope of living organisms).

4) An empirical analysis of the use of intellectual property rights in Argentina (and perhaps Brazil) for analysing the relationship between intellectual property rights and innovation/development in a developing country.

5) To investigate the adaptation of intellectual property rights to living organisms for development in less industrialised countries. Outline suggestions for how developing countries can use intellectual property rights more strategically in development and biotechnology.

Project leader: Morten Walløe Tvedt

Project period: 2002-2016


Tvedt, Morten Walløe, 'The Disclosure Obligation: Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing?'. Environmental Policy and Law , Vol 38, Nos 1-2, 2008, pp. 100-107.

Tvedt, Morten Walløe, 'The Path to One Universal Patent'. Environmental Policy and Law, Vol 37, No 4, 2007, pp. 297-305.

Tvedt, Morten Walløe, 'Elements for Legislation in User Countries to Meet the Fair and Equitable Benefit-Sharing Commitment'. Journal of World Intellectual Property, Vol 9, No 2, 2006, pp. 189-212.
 Related focal points of research:

   Biodiversity and genetic resources

Project funding:

   The Research Council of Norway (GLOBAL Programme)

Related document:

   FNI Research on Biological Diversity. Information brochure (PDF, 0.5 Mb)

Fridtjof Nansen Institute
P.O. Box 326, 1326 Lysaker, Norway. Tel: (+47) 67111900 / E-mail: post (