• Open Access

Commercial product exploitation from marine microbial biodiversity: some legal and IP issues


E-mail jfbloch@proteus.fr; Tel. (+33) 4 66 70 64 64; Fax (+33) 4 66 70 64 60.


The biodiversity found in the marine environment is remarkable and yet largely unknown compared with the terrestrial one. The associated genetic resource, also wide and unrevealed, has raised a strong interest from the scientific and industrial community. However, despite this growing interest, the discovery of new compounds extracted from marine organisms, more precisely from microorganisms, is ruled by a complex legislation. The access and transfer of genetic resource are ruled by the Convention on Biological Diversity. One of the three core objectives of this convention is to ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits generated by the use of genetic resources and to split these benefits between the different stakeholders. From the discovery of a microorganism to the commercialization of a product, three main stakeholders are involved: providers of microorganisms, e.g. academic institutes, the scientists who will perform R&D on biodiversity, and the industrial companies which will commercialize the final product arising from the R&D results. This article describes how difficult and complex it might be to ensure a fair distribution of benefits of this research between the parties.