§ Ms Jowell
Primary responsibility for taking forward developments and negotiations on this directive rests not with the Department, but with the Department of Trade and Industry. The Department has not carried out research into the human health implications of the directive. The European Parliament is due to give its first Opinion on the draft proposal next week, and the draft is likely to be amended further by the Commission. When the terms of the proposals to be put to Council of Ministers are known, we understand that the DTI will be undertaking further studies.
However, in relation to the human health implications of the draft proposal, we should add that whilst the patent system is designed to encourage research by providing a limited monopoly to allow companies to recoup their investment, a patent only gives its holder rights to prevent others from using an invention. The patent holder must comply with all other legislation and regulations if the invention is to be made.