WASHINGTON -- The Industrial Biotechnology Associationlikely will oppose the North American Free Trade Agreement ifMexican patent law relating to biotechnology inventions isn'tmodified to parallel U.S. criteria for patentability.

IBA President Richard Godown last week called on the office ofthe U.S. Trade Representative to make improvement of Mexicanintellectual property law a priority of the NAFTA negotiations.

Godown outlined four specific objections to Mexico's IndustrialProperty Protection and Development Law.

Mexican law precludes patenting of some therapeutic anddiagnostic methods that are patentable in the United States.The law also doesn't allow patents on a wide range ofbiotechnology inventions that are patentable in the UnitedStates, such as genetic engineering processes, geneticmaterial, inventions involving living matter found in the humanbody, genetically engineered plants and genetically engineeredanimals.

Mexico also allows imports of pharmaceuticals that have beenmade in a third country by a compulsory licensee. For example,Godown said, if a company obtains a Canadian patent and failsto practice that patent in Canada, the Canadian government canforce the company to license the product. That product couldthen be imported into Mexico. "You could end up competing withyour own product," Godown told BioWorld.

Mexican law also allows a third party to clone a patentedproduct that is living matter.

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