Date : 16-05-2019

Question :

Large companies specialized in genetics develop certain plant varieties to make them more productive. This process is costly and entitles the companies to monopolize the rights of intellectual property of the research that they conduct. These genetically modified plants can be obtained only through these companies. Is it permissible to purchase this type of plants from companies which don`t own the intellectual rights to such products?

The Answer :

Praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.

Invention right is an inalienable right of its owner where he can sell or buy it whenever he wants since it is a continuing and extensive series of research, studies and experimentation to arrive at the intended result, and the cost of these makes that invention a legitimate right of its owner. Moreover, there are legal rulings that protect this right. Therefore, it is forbidden for others to benefit from this right- whether by forgery, imitation or destruction-without seeking the permission of its owner. This is because doing so is eating up people`s wealth unjustly. Allah the Almighty says in this regard, "O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will"{An-Nisa`, 29}. In addition, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "Verily your blood, your property and your honour are as sacred and inviolable as the sanctity of this day of yours, in this month of yours and in this town of yours. Verily! I have conveyed this message to you." {Bukhari & Muslim}.

According to contemporary Ijtihad (Independent reasoning), invention right has a material value, so the International Islamic Fiqh Academy has issued resolution No.(43, 5/5)-about moral rights-and it states: "First: Trade name, corporate name, trade mark, authorship and invention are rights to whom they belong and, in modern custom, they are of considerable material value from which money is generated, and they are considerable from the perspective of Sharia. Therefore, any transgression against them is impermissible."

In conclusion, it is forbidden to purchase the aforementioned genetically modified plants from companies that have not obtained a permission from the parent company, because they don`t have the right to ownership of these products. Moreover, exclusive sale of its products doesn`t make the parent company a monopolist, because it has the exclusive right to do so and this is considerable in modern transactions, which determine the owner of a products` trademark, and have the right to sell it via its agents. And Allah the Almighty knows best.