Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of
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.
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.
So, if there was a gene that some people possessed that prevented baldness, and this gene was patented, the patent holder could scour DNA records and then threaten possessing individuals with patent infringement lawsuits unless they either paid license fees or had gene therapy to disable the gene.
Who needs to research and sell a cure for baldness, when you can charge those who don't need one?
Oh well, at least it's all in the name of progress... to hell.
It is beyond me how the USPTO can issue patents for a discovery. These aren't patents for a method of discovering genes, are they? Or maybe a method of creating the gene?
And if it's not a method patent, and the inventor is claiming the gene itself, it would have to be a new gene, which the inventor created, the purpose of the patent to be to limit this invention's use by unlicensed parties.
If someone has a patent on a gene in my body and wanted to extract a license fee for that, I'd have to argue that the gene in question was prior art.
A more interesting case would be to get a patent on a virus, invented to alter DNA in a specific way, and then to pursue damages when the virus, a contagion, was passed around as a cold. This would not be unlike genetically engineered crops getting into neighboring fields through natural processes.
I think there's some wisdom behind the notion of life forms not being patentable, which would be one remedy, however the dilemma in my example could be addressed via intent. If the spreading of the virus or genetically engineered plants were via a force of nature and not intentional, then there ought not be damages. I suppose this would water down the patent in the same way that a trademark would lose strength by being adopted into the vernacular.
Funny how courts lean one way on patents and the other way on trademarks.
May as well ban DNA as a device for making unauthorised copies of genes, and ban sex without a reproduction license as the consequently illicit act of preparing an unauthorised derivative.
It may take an incredible amount of silicon to do anything remotely intelligent, but to do something monumentally stupid, on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon fuck-up, you need wealthy corporations and corrupt legislators.
It also helps to indoctrinate kids at an early age that monopolies in the iron hands of our immortal corporate overlords are what made America great.
While this is not a patent issue, the implications from the intellectual property angle are quite clear. Swedish Police Say Anti-Piracy Law Has Harmed Ability To Catch Criminals. Given the current trend in ever more onerous intellectual property "rights" - I can see it know with DNA testing. Both the prosecuting and defense attorneys will each have to buy a license to test the DNA of the accused!!! (Since many accused use a public defender, would this mean that the State would have to pay twice for one test!!!!)
In fact, given the current trend - will a simple thing like blood donation become a thing of the past as becoming too expensive in terms of licensing fees? Were sliding down an ever increasing slippery slope of absurdity where we will have to pay a figurative toll every time we do something. Idly gazing at the Empire State building: $1.00 Please.