Who Owns the Cow Genome? The Battle Continues in Australia’s Legal System


In Australia, the legal fight continues over cow genes between Cargill USA and Branhaven LLC versus Meat and Livestock Australia and Dairy Australia, associations that represent the dairy and meat farmers. As covered in NUU last fall, what started as a patent filed by Cargill USA and Branhaven in 2010 for the cow genome in broad terms has become a debate of who owns genetic information. Branhaven’s lawyers argue they have a real invention – the methods used to identify the cow genomes, but MLA and Dairy Australia argue that the patent is too broad and could mean that Branhaven claim they own the genomic data of about two-thirds of all cows in Australia. The High Court ruled two years ago that no one can own genomic data since it’s a discovery of nature, not an invention, but this appeals case by Branhaven is trying to say otherwise. The hearings finish later this week with a final decision expected soon thereafter.