Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

gene patents

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.

More evidence about the beneficial effect of patents

Of course we need to allow negative values of "beneficial".

Gene patents upheld on appeal

Andrew Pollack reports that "Myriad Genetics retained its monopoly on a lucrative genetic test for breast cancer risk when a federal appeals court recently upheld the company's patents on two human genes and the validity of gene patents in general." It seems to me that this is so wrong as to defy any rational explanation link here.

Remembering that the constitutional basis for patents is that they encourage innovation, the patent is here granted on the wrong thing. A gene is not invented or developed. It is not a creation of human ingenuity. The patent should not be on the gene but on the process or procedure to identify it. The Appeals Court ruling pretty clearly identifies the gene as patentable, apparently because the procedure has transformed it. The finding is buried in 105 pages of opinion link here .

Worst result: Gene patents have in general been upheld. Let's hope the Supremes to overturn it.

Fund raising for feature documentary - Who Owns You?

As I noted previously, I was interviewed recently for a promising new documentary by lawyer-philosopher David Koepsell and filmmaker Taylor Roesch, "Who Owns You?" (Here's the first trailer, on Vimeo.) Here's an email I just received from Taylor:
Hello Family and Friends,

As you may or may not know, for the last eight months, I have been filming a documentary on the subject of human gene patenting with David Koepsell, philosopher and author of the book Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Our Genes. We have made great progress since last October, filming numerous interviews with genetic counselors, patent attorneys, and the one and only James Watson. Currently, we have over 35 hours of footage and expect to film another 35 hours this summer. Below is a link to the trailer for the documentary:

Who Owns You? - Trailer

Our film has nicely dove-tailed with the recent court case between the Myriad Genetics, patent holder of genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 (which contribute to breast cancer), and the ACLU as well as numerous individuals and clinical organizations. At the beginning of April, the honorable Judge Sweets of the Federal District Court in New York, ruled in favor of the ACLU, making Myriad's patents invalid. Initially, this was great news! Not only had the ACLU won this case, but my film had an ending. My celebration was premature because Myriad has decided to appeal the decision. The case is currently in the Appellate Court and both sides intend on taking it to the US Supreme Court. It will be years before a final decision is reached. If we can spotlight this issue in the public square, it will help build public support for the lower court's decision, and perhaps the Appellate Court and Supreme Court will uphold the recent ruling.

But there is more at stake than this one case, over 20% of the human genome has been patented. While the ACLU case highlights this problem, there are still many questions about whether it will invalidate all of these sorts of gene patents.

We have some great people willing to help us as you can see from our trailer but there are still a lot of costs involved in finishing the film. We need additional funds to conduct more interviews in Chicago, Washington DC, Berkeley CA, and The Netherlands. After we finish filming this summer, post production will begin and a final product should be ready by December 2010. We have financed much of the work ourselves, but we will need at least $3,000.00 to complete this important film. Any money you can contribute will go a long way to getting this documentary done and this issue heard. Please feel free to send this email along to anyone you think might be interested in helping us out.

Below is a link to our Kickstarter website where you can easily donate to our project:

Your Genes Have Been Patented - A Feature Documentary titled Who Owns You?

Thank you very much,

Taylor Roesch (757) 817-5052 TaylorRoesch@gmail.com

Who Owns You? - A Documentary - Trailer

Here's the first trailer for a promising new documentary by lawyer-philosopher David Koepsell and filmmaker Taylor Roesch (I was interviewed for it as mentioned here). Vimeo;

Who Owns You? - A Documentary - Trailer from Taylor Roesch on Vimeo.

Over the last 20 years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has been issuing patents to universities and private companies on raw human genes. One company or university is given a legal monopoly over a molecule that is inside every human being and many other animals. This documentary explores the legal, ethical, and clinical ramifications of human gene patenting.


Taylor Roesch taylorroesch.com

David Koepsell davidkoepsell.com

Music by: Carter Mahnke


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