University of Regina
Richard Gray and Stuart Smyth
University of Saskatchewan
The development of intellectual property (IP) protection in plant breeding brought much-needed private investment into canola research in the 1980s, but at the same time, fragmented research and IP ownership. In the 1990s, the biotechnology industry tried to address the growing IP fragmentation through a series of mergers and acquisitions. As we show through a survey of canola breeders, these changes reduced the sharing of knowledge in both the public and private sector, significantly increasing the cost of conducting breeding research. In the past decade, firms have clearly moved away from mergers and acquisitions towards cross-licensing of IP. What remains to be seen, is whether these agreements get to the root of the freedom- to-operate (FTO) problem that exists in agricultural biotechnology.
Key words: Intellectual property, freedom to operate, anticommons, patents.