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MEDICAL researchers appear poised to sue the Intellectual Property Department after it registered patents for cannabis extract products.
Intellectual Property Department director-general Thosapone Dansuputra yesterday said that any attempt to register a patent for cannabis extract would not be considered, as Thai law clearly states that herbal extracts are not regarded as intellectual property.
“No one can own a patent for a natural cannabis extract, and even if patent applications for cannabis extracts are in the process of being considered, these patents won’t be enforced unless they pass the |registration process,” Thosapone said.
“So it is impossible for foreign companies to get a cannabis extract patent, and Thai researchers have a right to use cannabis extracts for the research and development of cannabinoid medicines.”
He explained that the department had only been accepting the patent registration applications as part of official procedure.
He said the officials had no power to turn down applications if applicants submit the required documents.
“The patent application must show further enhancement of the cannabis extract, artificial cannabinoid extraction or cannabis breeding development of cannabinoid products in order to pass the patent consideration process,” he explained.
Failed to protect
However, Drug System Monitoring Mechanism Development Centre manager Dr Niyada Kiatying-Angsulee insisted that the Intellectual Property Department had failed to protect the interests of Thai people using cannabis extract as medicine.
She said the department must reject all cannabis extract patents now on their desk or her centre would sue them.
“As we have found that a handful of cannabis extract and cannabinoid medicine patent applications are now being considered, it is clear that the Intellectual Property Department has not performed its duty properly,” Niyada said.
“We have urged the department to withdraw all of these problematic patent applications. If they continue to refuse to do so, we will have no choice but to sue them on the charge of nonfeasance.”
Niyada insisted that by intentionally neglecting this issue, Intellectual Property Department was putting the national stability of medicine and public health at risk.
With the election approaching, she also asked every political party to declare their stance on medicinal cannabis legalisation.
Meanwhile, the Highland Network reports that at least two cannabis-related patents have already been granted, one of them to a Thai.
Highland Network also said that another 15 cannabinoid medicine patents are currently being considered, while eight patents have been abandoned.
Niyada said the two granted patents should be re-examined to see whether they are actually eligible for intellectual property protection and legal registration.
Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) chairman Dr Sopon Mekthon has asked GPO lawyers to find a way out of the intellectual property issue, as it is now researching cannabinoid extraction.
The patent problem could affect the agency’s research effort and halt the cannabinoid extraction plant project.