Neglected Dimension of the Inventive Step as Applied to Pharmaceutical and Biotechnological Products: The case of Sri Lanka’s patent law
By Ruwan Fernando
Apart from the basic statutory definition in section 65 of the Intellectual Property Act of Sri Lanka, there do not appear to be any detailed statutory guidelines or judicial decisions to provide any framework for the assessment of inventive step in Sri Lanka. The current statutory definition is highly insufficient to evaluate the standard of obviousness in relation to biotechnological and pharmaceutical claims based on a combination or modification of a prior art reference.
The Courts in both developed and developing countries have adopted a variety of tests to evaluate the obviousness standard of a claimed invention based on a combination or modification of a prior art reference. Sri Lanka, as a developing country, should look at the development that has taken place in other jurisdictions and adapt the patent law to local conditions when developing tests or guidelines in a manner that is compatible with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and its biotechnology/pharmaceutical policy guidelines.
This approach that is appropriate to Sri Lanka is twofold. First, it is most likely to prevent the issuance of patents on trivial or incremental inventions that do not provide any technical advance to the existing prior art and are a mere extension of what is already known in the prior art. Second, it is most likely to protect genuine technical advances to the existing prior art while at the same time enhancing competition and promoting local innovations so that the local researchers will be able to draw on the existing knowledge for the purpose of follow-on innovations.
Reaping the Fruits of Research on Microorganisms: Prospects and Challenges for R&D and Industry in Sri Lanka
by Ruwan Fernando
When the Intellectual Property Bill designed to secure compliance with the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS Agreement”) was challenged in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, the Court determined that the patenting of naturally occurring microorganisms by right holders would result in the increase of the prices of diagnoses and cures. The Supreme Court found that in the absence in the Bill of mitigatory measures -as allowed by the TRIPS Agreement- and of a working definition of the term “microorganism”, there was a violation of the right to equal protection under Article 12 (1) of the Constitution. In the circumstance, the patent protection for microorganisms was narrowed down to transgenic microorganisms.
The policy makers do not appear to have disregarded the positive impact of the Supreme Court determination by making the necessary statutory provisions and policy changes to facilitate the patent applications on transgenic microorganisms, while ensuring that local researchers are not restrained from gaining access to naturally occurring microorganisms for research and development.
The Liability of Internet Service Providers for Copyright Infringement in Sri Lanka: A Comparative Analysis
By Ruwan Fernando
The exclusive rights enjoyed by a copyright owner to reproduce his protected work in any material form, including any permanent or temporary storage in electronic form will have a direct impact on the lawful activities of an internet service provider (ISP). Any transmission of temporary copies of material protected by copyright law by their subscribers or third parties using the networks provided by an ISP may amount to unauthorised reproduction of such protected material. The exclusive rights granted to a copyright owner may, thus, place an ISP in a difficult position that may seriously affect the legitimate services and facilities provided by an ISP such as transmitting, routing and storing of information on their networks. It would be impracticable however, to equate the position of a person who engages in traditional copyright infringement with that of an ISP who may merely provide access to the internet and various services to its subscribers facilitated by its networks.
The making of temporary copies exception was developed in the copyright law to safeguard the legitimate interests of an ISP, which may under certain conditions, exempt an ISP from liability for copyright infringement on the internet initiated by its subscribers or third parties by using the system provided by an ISP. There are laws in force in many countries to limit the liability of an ISP for the infringement of copyright that takes place on its networks. An ISP in Sri Lanka may not enjoy the same privilege for the infringement of unauthorised material initiated by its users or third parties on their networks. The current law is unlikely to provide adequate protection for the legitimate activities of ISPs in an attempt to minimize the vulnerability against copyright infringement claims.