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Business Ethics

Rohan Veeramalla
Case study P.177

Neemix Patent
I History: This case study introduces some of the ethical issues surrounding
the patenting of life. The story began when W. R. Grace received a U.S.
patent on an insecticide, Neemix, derived from the seeds of the neem tree,
which occurs naturally in India. Some Indians challenged the patent on the
grounds that
(a) Neem seeds are natural and belong to everyone,
(b) nNeem extracts and their effects are traditional knowledge in Indian

II Absolutes: No Absolutes were violated or challenged.
Legal: W.R Grace got the patent after all legal formalities, so no law has
been violated.

III Moral Philosophies:
A) Teleological: The outcome of the Neemix patent was a beneficial one for
W.R Grace as the found a way to make more profit by producing natural
pesticides which doesnt harm the environment. They are working with
Indian companies and providing them employment.

B) Utilitarian: The outcome of this case is the best one for every one
effected from it M.R Grace is making profit from this new pesticide. Indian
company working with them is able to provide employment to their people.
The people of that region have work and are able to lead a better life. The
pesticide is made from natural ingredients so it doesnt harm the
environment. The entire problem was that people thought that the patent of
Neemix prohibited them from using Neem as a natural pesticide that the
people of India were using for many years. Which was not the reality.

C) Egoistic: The decision to patent the neemix pesticide was the right thing
to do from the point of view of M.R Grace as a company as they had the
ever increasing risk of the method of making the pesticide to be replicated
by other companies and effect their market share. They did not patent the
use of Neem as a raw material; they had patented the process, which they
had come up with to process the neem seeds to be used in the pesticide,
which converted them into a powder form. This patent was filled in US only
so this doesnt take away the right of the people of India to use the Neem as
they wished.

D) Deontological: This case is a very good example of the right to own
property. M.R Grace has the right to own its intellectual property and that is
what they did they patent the process they used to make the pesticide.

E) Public Relations: I would suggest M.R Grace to come in the open and
address all the allegations being put in them and make the people understand
of what they have patent for and what not because the people are filing
petitions as they believe that they wont be able to yes neem as a pesticide as
M.R Grace has the patent for it, Which is not the case. Clearing such
misunderstanding would bring the people on their side and would help the
company build its relation with the people.

IV Conclusion:
The step to patent the process of making the neem based pesticide in the US
which was taken by M.R Grace was aright one as they wanted to keep their
process to themselves and protect it from others. What they did wrong is that
they did not openly talk about what they had the patent for was is the neem
plant being used or the process or something else. M.R Grace is one of the
other 5 companies who has patent over a neem based pesticide they are not
stopping anyone from using neem they just have the patent for the process
they use to make the pesticide and this should have been clearly
communicated to the people which they did not do. Ans they had the patent
only in US and they did not have any plans to patent it in India as people of
India have been using neem for hundreds of years.