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Stem Cell Patent Halts Hospital's Collection

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the king-of-the-patent-trolls dept.

Biotech 223

eldavojohn writes "It's a classic case that comes up when dealing with patents. A hospital's research on the donated brains of deceased children has been in limbo for three years because of a challenge from a patent holder. The double-edged sword of patents that spurred investment into the field will also cause chilling effects on research like the case of the Children's Hospital of Orange County. They've now been forced to shift the money from the lab to lawyers in order to deal with this ongoing patent dispute over a technique that was developed to extract stem cells at the Salk Institute. Unfortunately the Salk Institute failed to patent the technology, so a company named StemCells happily had it approved. The real disheartening news is that CHOC's Dr. Philip H. Schwartz — the doctor collecting the cells — was one of the original researchers who helped developed this technique at the Salk Institute. Now he can't even use the technique he helped create. Schwartz has since been instructed not to publicly discuss the case further. Research interests are clashing with commercial interests in a classic case that causes one to wonder if patents surrounding medical techniques like this stretch too far. As for the people that donated their dead child's brain to research, those valuable stem cell cultures have been kept in storage instead of being disseminated to research labs (which desperately need them) across the country."

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How patently stupid. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325720)

A group that didn't invent it shouldn't even be able to patent it. Fuck you, "StemCells", fuck you to the grave.

Re:How patently stupid. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325784)

They can't patent it; it's called prior art.

Good luck getting patents to actually work how they're supposed to, though.

Re:How patently stupid. (2, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325790)

Nobody should be able to patent it. The original inventors could just as well be the patent trolls keeping stem cells out of hospitals.

Re:How patently stupid. (4, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325952)

Didn't RTFA?

One of the doctors complaining is one of the doctors that invented the process.

Re:How patently stupid. (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326498)

Or even the whole summary...

Re:How patently stupid. (1)

Manos_Of_Fate (1092793) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326624)

He wasn't saying that was the case, he was saying it easily could have been.

Re:How patently stupid. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326694)

Didn't RTFPYRT either, monger.

Re:How patently stupid. (2, Insightful)

MrMr (219533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326560)

I wonder who the company claimed as inventors on their patent application.
Knowingly leaving out the real inventors will get them more than just a slap on the wrist...

Re:How patently stupid. (4, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326722)

Knowingly leaving out the real inventors will get them more than just a slap on the wrist...

Yes, but only after years of legal battles. They'll need the first court to overturn the patent before they would be able to go back after them for damages. That's the problem here... Patents are being blindly issued, only looking to see if it was patented before. Then, it's up to the courts to determine the validity of the patent... That's horrible for the little guy, who chances are doesn't have the money to pay for the legal fees. So the only people the current patent system helps, are the big companies and the courts.

prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325802)

hello? shouldn't prior art quickly dissolve this patent?

Re:prior art? (3, Insightful)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325878)

dissolve as in eventually have a judge rule that the patent isn't valid? As the article points out, CHOC now has to go to court to get that handled. While the patent may
be invalid because of prior art it still takes courts and lawyers and dockets and paper to make this situation "right." What I don't understand is that if there's no
profit motive on the part of CHOC, they're doing research, why they're being prohibited from using the technique anyway? I guess it's like patenting a shovel, if anybody digs
a hole can the patent holder prohibit you from having a swimming pool?

Re:prior art? (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325960)

Why do you assume there has to be a profit motive in order to run amok of patents?

Research exemption (3, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326418)

He didn't assume it, he asked about it.

And may have been thinking about the 271(e)(1) exemption or "Hatch-Waxman exemption".

Re:prior art? (3, Informative)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326744)

The word you're looking for is "afoul". Though you did conjure up an interesting image.

Re:prior art? (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326368)

Adding injury to insult, I believe that patent litigation is even more expensive than most court proceedings.

Re:prior art? (2, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326312)

The article doesn't say whether the original inventors published. If a technique can't be found in a literature search, I'd be surprised if it's considered prior art.

If the original inventors try to win on the grounds of priority, didn't it change a while ago from first-to-invent to first-to-file?

Hmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325816)

So you could say that the company StemCells
 
::puts on sunglasses::
 
is causing division in this new industry?
 
::yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh::

Re:Hmm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326056)

This company StemCells...

*sunglasses*

Is causing my might ol' sis dearly now.

BAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

Re:Hmm (2, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326320)

Let's just hope this phenomena of patents preventing stem-cell research becomes

::puts on sunglasses::

QUIESCENT!

...

Well, all you true cell biologists out there appreciated that. Understood it a least. Look, it at least sorta made sense. [wikipedia.org] Don't judge me!

Re:Hmm (1)

guspasho (941623) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326406)

Will someone please explain this "sunglasses/yeah" meme?

Re:Hmm (1)

Galaga88 (148206) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326460)

Do a quick Google/Youtube search for David Caruso One Liners

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mznsEcZlM2I [youtube.com]

It's a recurring thing from CSI:Miami.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326486)

It's a pop-culture reference to the character played by David Caruso. His character is notorious for starting a one-liner, putting on his sunglasses, and then finishing it.

Re:Hmm (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326638)

Here's an explanation at Youtube [youtube.com] it. It's from CSI: Miami

Re:Hmm (-1, Troll)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326544)

Dude, i don't even think your comment is funny. Just really insensitive and callus. Too bad I don't have mod points today.

One can always hope (4, Funny)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325840)

Dead child brains?

Advanced medical research?

Idea-stealing profiteers and soulless lawyers, deserving of comeuppance?

I smell zombies!

Re:One can always hope (2, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325888)

I was actually thinking that it's the sort of research that could go incredibly wrong after they realized that they used the brain of somebody named Abby Normal.

Re:One can always hope (2, Funny)

Spazztastic (814296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326228)

Dr. Frankenstein: [To Igor] Igor, may I speak to you for a moment?
Igor: Of course.
Dr. Frankenstein: Sit down, won't you?
Igor: Thank you. [Igor sits on the floor]
Dr. Frankenstein: No no, up here.
Igor: Thank you. [Igor sits on a chair]
Dr. Frankenstein: Now... that brain that you gave me... was it Hans Delbruck's?
Igor: [Crosses arms] No.
Dr. Frankenstein: [Holds up hand] Ah. Good. Uh... would you mind telling me... whose brain... I did put in?
Igor: And you won't be angry?
Dr. Frankenstein: I will not be angry.
Igor: [Shrugs] Abby someone.
Dr. Frankenstein: Abby someone? Abby who?
Igor: Abby Normal.
Dr. Frankenstein: [Slightly angry] Abby Normal?
Igor: I'm almost sure that was the name. [He and Dr. Frankenstein laugh]
Dr. Frankenstein: Are you saying... [Stands] that I put an abnormal brain... [Puts hand on Igor's hump] into a 7 and a half foot long... 54- inch wide... [Grabs Igor by throat] GORILLA?!?!?! [Strangling Igor] IS THAT WHAT YOU'RE TELLING ME!?!

Re:One can always hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326314)

Oh, no...that's just the odor of the businessmen and lawyers doing this little thing in the first place...

Re:One can always hope (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326642)

So sharks, leeches, and bloodsuckers,

Failure of self-restraint (2, Funny)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325856)

I know this is a serious topic, but... I... can't resist....

BRAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIINNNNSSSS!!!

Prior art? (5, Insightful)

Kronon (1263422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325858)

How can StemCells be granted a patent for this technique? It would seem that Salk Institute can prove that it is prior art (i.e. that they utilized this technique prior to any patent claims by StemCells), invalidating the patent claim by StemCells.

Re:Prior art? (4, Insightful)

gorzek (647352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326006)

They still have to go to court to get it invalidated, though.

Re:Prior art? (1)

olddotter (638430) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326274)

Write your congress creature to push on patent reform, or more funding for the patent office to check for prior art.

Re:Prior art? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326336)

RTFA

StemCells is part of Stanford and were the first to create this technique

Re:Prior art? (5, Insightful)

Kronon (1263422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326620)

I don't see any proof of that in the article. The article implies that it was lack of initiative by Salk Institute that allowed StemCells to secure a patent on the technique: "The dispute comes down to access to a technique that Schwartz helped develop at the Salk Institute but the institute failed to patent. StemCells did." Can you provide a citation that gives a detailed chronology? In any case, Weissman comes off as a huge hypocrite by freezing out a research group with no commercial interests --- i.e., on the one hand he'll advocate for freedom to carry out this research, while simultaneously stymieing basic, non-commercial research with the other. This is what really bothers me about patents: They can enable commercial interests to erect a fence and keep out any public research in a potentially large area of science. Commercial interests can often secure funds to pay for licensing the patents. This usually is not in the budget for publicly funded research groups. (My preview shows this appearing as a wall of text, even though I have included white space.)

Re:Prior art? (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326852)

Where in the article does it say that?

Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Institute at Stanford != Palo Alto biotech company StemCells

Sure, Dr Weissman is a member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Boards of StemCells.

Sure, Dr Weissman is the Director of the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

But, they aren't mutually inclusive.

What _about_ prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326520)

How many thousands of dollars per patent, do you expect patent examiners to spend in their search for prior art?

Re:Prior art? (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326576)

It would seem that Salk Institute can prove that it is prior art (i.e. that they published this technique prior to any patent filings by StemCells), invalidating the patent claim by StemCells.

Two small changes from what you wrote, but critical. Prior art must be public and predate patent filings (not necessarily predate claims).

Re:Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326650)

In my humble experience, prior art really only counts if the material was published or lectured to a large enough group. After that, it's lawyer lawyer jerky time, and chances are the original applicant will win their defense in court. 2.5 cents

P.S
If the patent applicant can be proven to have signed NDA or known about the prior art then it's a whole new ball o' wax. This happens all the time when people jump ship from company A to company B.

Problem Solved (-1, Redundant)

bigspring (1791856) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325864)

I'm gonna patent the patent process. What then, bitches?

Publish Owners Names (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325874)

This could probably be resolved by publishing the names of those responsible for StemCells far and wide.

Re:Publish Owners Names (4, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325940)

Re:Publish Owners Names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326376)

http://people.forbes.com/profile/martin-m-mcglynn/74603

here you go (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325996)

Google Finance knows all:

http://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ%3ASTEM [google.com]

Scroll to the bottom and there is a list of Execs.

Martin McGlynn is CEO:

http://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/officerProfile?symbol=STEM.O&officerId=169142 [reuters.com]

"Mr. Martin M. McGlynn serves as President, Chief Executive Officer, Director of StemCells Inc. Mr. Martin McGlynn joined the company in January 2001, when he was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of the company and of its wholly-owned subsidiaries. Mr. McGlynn was elected to the Board of Directors in February 2001."

$1,324,380 per year is a pretty decent salary.

Re:here you go (4, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326066)

Mr. Martin M. McGlynn serves as President, Chief Executive Officer, Director of StemCells Inc....$1,324,380 per year [reuters.com]

'Tis good to be a patent troll

Why do we have patents on life-saving techniques? Can you imagine if there was a patent on washing your hands or stitching a wound?

Re:here you go (4, Insightful)

kurokame (1764228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326838)

The point of patents is that if you come up with something cool, the patent protects your ability to make a living off of having done so both through marketing it yourself and through licensing it to others.

It doesn't often work that way in practice. Patents are used to prevent competition instead of encouraging it, and licensing fees are used to determine who can and who cannot practically work with the technology. It's yet another case where the basic idea was sound but the implementation is lacking. A major issue has been that the scientific and corporate landscape has changed significantly over time, while the patent system has not adapted adequately.

Re:Publish Owners Names (4, Insightful)

Enleth (947766) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326090)

A guy with a Barret M107, a handful of .50 BMG bullets with "for this patent bullshit" engraved on them and an escape helicopter would help, too.

Every time I read about scumbags like this, I'm more and more convinced that this is indeed the only way.

Re:Publish Owners Names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326352)

.50 BMG would probably just go through and through. You want to use a medium grain hollowpoint .45 from about 20 feet. Enough to enter, but not enough to leave. This is based on Physics of course.

Re:Publish Owners Names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326874)

Yeah thats all very well but I think that procedure is patented..

Re:Publish Owners Names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326980)

I have to admit, one of the nice things about patent troll companies is that there are fewer people to kill before they can't sue you anymore.

Re:Publish Owners Names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326112)

Sounds like a job for the Internets [stemcellsinc.com] .

The value of defensive patents. (4, Interesting)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325882)

This is a great example of why defensive patents are necessary. The inventor can obtain the patents, then grant anyone a free, perpetual license to use the technology. Hopefully, the doctor will win the lawsuit based on his work in creating the process but it's pretty crazy that it's not certain that he can win unless his creative process was public enough to constitute prior art.

Re:The value of defensive patents. (4, Insightful)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326076)

The solution to over-patenting isn't more patents. That would just be shoveling more money to lawyers and away from doing research or curing people. The solutions here seem to be to either allow nonprofits and universities to use patents for basic research, or to shorten patent lengths. A 20 year patent seems ridiculous when product lifecycles and discoveries are moving much more quickly.

Re:The value of defensive patents. (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326234)

Perhaps. But that would require a comprehensive change of the patent laws of the United States. Over-patenting can be done without getting all the politicians together.

Re:The value of defensive patents. (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326354)

In this case, I think a fast-track process to get an obviously wrongly awarded patent invalidated would suffice. I would toss in treble damages awarded to the original inventor (if they're the one asking for the invalidation), to punish patent trolls trying to patent something someone else invented, but that's just me.

Re:The value of defensive patents. (3, Informative)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326502)

It is unclear that StemCells was wrongly awarded its patent. From the TFA:

The roots of the conflict go back several years. While at Salk Institute, Schwartz created a new application out of an existing technique: deriving neural stem cells from post-mortem brains, then growing them in culture. At the same time, StemCells was doing similar things.

So it seems that both inventions were made at the same time, independently. In that case, either party may file for and be awarded the patent in the US [wikipedia.org] .

Re:The value of defensive patents. (1, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326824)

The solutions here

The solution here is not to allow monopoly rights at all. If there is a desperate desire to divert money towards specific fields or specific holders of certain papers, then just outright pay them from whatever public purse whose politicos they control, and leave the actual economy and business of getting jobs done alone.

Patents and other IPR seems like a good idea to some because their costs are not accounted for, but there is no macroeconomic difference between the privatized taxation rights of IPR and taxing and having the state pay out for per-patent use. Except, of course, it's much easier to say 'we're giving 20 years of monopoly rights to encourage innovation' than 'we're handing out X billions of which barely 20% is used for the purpose we intended'. And, of course, the fact that private monopolies seem to become even less efficient than (at least accountable) public monopolies.

Re:The value of defensive patents. (1)

johndesmarais (707777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326912)

I think a better answer is to simply not allow utility patents to cover processes (or not allow utility patents at all).

Re:The value of defensive patents. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326088)

No. This is an example that patent offices do not do their job and should be held liable of giving a patent to someone who did not invent the patented thing.

Re:The value of defensive patents. (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326198)

How nice that they're allowed to spend ten to twenty thousand dollars applying for a patent that they don't intend to use. All in an effort to prevent what is basically being blackmailed by a company that has not only stolen your ideas from you, but also from everyone else who would do work in the field. What a wonderful, effective system we have.

Re:The value of defensive patents. (1)

Heather D (1279828) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326282)

That's modern patent law for you. There's a reason why most patent-holding trusts are owned by lawyers.

"Hey nice idea there, it'd be a shame if something unfortunate happened wouldn't it?"

Re:The value of defensive patents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326218)

Patents cost money. Lots of money.

Defensive patents are no exception.

Research = Noncommercial (5, Interesting)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325936)

Research is a noncommercial endeavour, and as such patent infringement cannot occur. What these "researchers" were trying to do with these brains was something akin to a commercial endeavour, whereby the can extract the stem cells within the dead children's brains, grow them as eternal cell culture and cell these renewing stem cell cultures to real researchers. If they were performing non-profit research, they could use whatever technique the wanted to ... it's like a hobby.

You can go tinker with your car and fabricate a new intake manifold on your own to make it go faster, and not be afraid of being sued for patent infringement because you used some company's design for an intake manifold. When you start racing professionally with that car seeking sponsorships and purses, then you've committed patent infringement.

Re:Research = Noncommercial (1)

sonnejw0 (1114901) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325948)

*cell=sell ... too many synonyms :-/
"...and sell these renewing stem ..."

Re:Research = Noncommercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325998)

*cell=sell ... too many synonyms :-/
"...and sell these renewing stem ..."

I literally had to read that 3 times to find your error. Don't sweat the small stuff. It's just a slashdot comment.

I think you mean homonym (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326040)

not synonym

Re:Research = Noncommercial (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326050)

I think you mean homonyms [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Research = Noncommercial (1)

Kronon (1263422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326674)

I think you mean homonyms [wikipedia.org] .

I think you mean homophones. ;)

Re:Research = Noncommercial (5, Funny)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326174)

Salk sells stem cells by the sea shore?

Re:Research = Noncommercial (0, Troll)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326080)

Hey jackass read the freakin' article. The doctor created the technique used to harvest the stem cells. It's that technique the other company claims to have patented. So the doctor cannot use the very technique he created!

Do you get the picture moron!

From the article: "Schwartz said his nonprofit hospital has no intention of commercializing its discoveries or stealing profits from StemCells."

So again, what's wrong with that. The greedy SOB StemCells - nice name ass-holes - wants to stop people from saving lives because it will cut into their bottom line.

These medical patents need to go.

Re:Research = Noncommercial (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326900)

Research is a noncommercial endeavour, and as such patent infringement cannot occur.

[citation needed]

Re:Research = Noncommercial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326922)

The whole idea of patents was to protect the inventors from the companies. Some giant coorporation is going to be able to mass produce whatever they discover or make at less expense and the inventor won't see any of the cash from their discovery. Hence patents came about, to protect and reward inventors and researchers.

Except things somehow changed to the opposite of what they should be. It's almost impossible to create something that doesnt infringe a patent or two, and big companies have large patent pools which they use to crush competition and deter attack. The exact opposite of what was meant to happen.

I mean, look at the example you gave "You can go tinker with your car and fabricate a new intake manifold on your own to make it go faster", now say you've never seen the company's intake manifold before and worked hard to develop your own ideas. You had no idea that said manifold existed, and you put effort into said discovery. Now you're being told that you've got to pay some random company for something you designed built and used yourself... Patents have the opposite effect they were intended to: they deter innovation. Submarine patents, especially.

Look at the article: holding up the research and being forced to spend the money on the lawyers instead is going to result in whatever medical treatment they may discover being held up, and costing lives that could have been saved. It's stupid. Patent law needs change.

quick buck (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32325956)

Life, and the building blocks of life should never be considered for a patent. Genes are one more item that I would say should never have a patent too. It's a very sad day when the very thing you help create you no longer can use because some Company now own the patent. This is closing out other innovations that could come from open research. It all breaks down to this, Every one wants to make a buck, and they don't care what they have to do to make that happen.

FTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326626)

If you read the summary it is the method of extracting cells that is at issue, not the cells themselves. This seems well within the realm of patentable things. If they can find a new way to extract the cells, that is fine, but this way is patented.

Admittedly, it is patented by people that didn't actually invent the method, and thus the lawsuit, but the patent should only be invalidated on those grounds, not because of the contents of the patent.

Disclaimer: I am one of those firmly against software/business method patents (or look/feel patents, at best those should be trademarked), and I am all for shorter copyright terms (I think 20 years across both patents and copyrights).

ah, thank goodness (3, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32325966)

So to date this life-giving science has been encumbered by christian fundamentalists and unsavory patent trolls. If my america pedals itself any faster into the dark ages, ill have to resort to public flagellation as a response to the upcoming hurricane season.

Re:ah, thank goodness (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326166)

I've been publicly flagellating myself for years. And it WORKS. Since I started, we have had ZERO hurricanes here in Iowa.

Re:ah, thank goodness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326280)

Yeah, but if you don't stop it, you'll go blind and get hairy palms.

Re:ah, thank goodness (3, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326298)

The research in question was never effected by Christian fundamentalists since it does not involve embryonic stem cells. Of course that is true of all of the promising stem cell research. Christians do not have a problem with stem cell research, Christians have a problem with embryonic stem cell research. What is nice about this is that none of the research that is showing promise for providing cures involves embryonic stem cells.

Re:ah, thank goodness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326538)

Affected, not effected. Changes the entire meaning of your first sentence.

Re:ah, thank goodness (1, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326582)

Well the Embryonic Stem-Cell debate (which isn't what this is about) is what there is debate about, because in order to get these stem-cells you need to terminate the fetus, which is a valid moral debate without thumping the bible, because the PEOPLE who wrote the bible never even considered about thinking things to that detail. Terms of Patents just because they are protecting their patient it doesn't mean they are a Patent Troll. A lot of this type of stuff we really need a good debate on it, without finger pointing. We are blurring lines that use to be black and white. I don't think it is really going to the dark ages but more to a point we need really figure out the implementations of these problems.

Become part of the brain drain. (4, Interesting)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326014)

Move to China, Russia, or Canada. [slashdot.org] After reading today's Slashdot news I don't know why anyone would want to live in the Western World.

You can't buy lab equipment since in the West that would make you a drug maker or a terrorist. [slashdot.org]
You can't create innovative software that does something better than an established market, because you're infringing on a patent. (The whole MPEG-LA thing...)
You can't grow one of the most useful plants known to man, because someone might ingest its bud and receive pleasure from it.

Honestly, Just move to another country that doesn't respect the US patents and start saving lives. I'm sure India would love to have your expertise. There is also the United Arab Emirates, and the other Oil producing nations that are actively building research facilities to help them compete when the oil runs out.

Dear Comrade: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326128)

"After reading today's Slashdot news I don't know why anyone would want to live in the Western World."

Only if you are a PALIN-drone [crooksandliars.com] .

Yours In Akademgorodok,
Kilgore Trout, C.E.O.

hilarious (0, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326860)

why can't people use this amazing mental ability called compare and contrast when deriving their various lofty opinions?

the usa has plenty of problems. obviously. and don't you think any of the places you list don't have problems of their own, some of them obviously quite worse? some of them quite different? some of them leaving you just as angry and baffled as the problems in the usa? some of them just as complicated and difficult to solve as those in the usa?

furthermore, if you have a problem with a policy in your home country, instead of fleeing somewhere else, you should stay and fight for what you believe in. you're a sort of ideological parasite if you desire a certain social or legal standard, but instead of actually putting in the hard work to achieve it, you run away and instead depend upon people you don't even know in a foreign country to work hard to give you the rights and freedoms you desire

if you run off to canada and spout off to a canadian about supposed canadian superiority about this or that issue, the canadian isn't going to look at you admiringly and embrace and welcome you as some sort of secret brother in arms. no, they're going to go "well that's great that you say that. so why don't you not freeload off me here, and go back home and fight for that superior understanding you share with me, so we have a nicer neighbor to our south, okay?"

it says a lot about your supposed lofty standards that you won't even fight for them. you just run away when challenged. this is not ideological superiority, this is character weakness

imagine hypothetical ideology X. guess what: nowhere, ever, on any place in the world, will ideology X exist, unless someone actually stands their ground and fights for ideology X. if instead, the mass of believers in ideology X are only about running away and fleeing at the slightest menace to their much vaunted (and empty) beliefs, then ideology X isn't a real ideology at all, just some daydream of a philosophy student with little real world experience with actual human beings

expats, whether to the usa, or from the usa, or from any country {X} to any country {Y}, to me, you're just a coward. fight for what you believe in, and fight it where you are from. the world is never going to improve if the best keep leaving their home countries

and yes, in some places, like iran, that means you are facing certain death. if you are fleeing a truly horrible regime like in iran, that will torture and kill you for defying them, then you get a pass according to me, i don't criticize you. because i know you will continue to fight: the iranian expat community continues the struggle as best they can for their home country, because fighting from afar is weak, but its better than being dead

but, the wanker in the comment above, this is the kind of person who would never stand his ground and fight against a regime like in iran. he'll shit all over the horrid west, but if he were iranian, with his character, he would flee and cower somewhere else, never fight for the rights he says are so dear to him... in word only. or he would stay in tehran and dutifully obey every edict of the theocracy in iran, because the wanker i am responding to is obviously a spineless coward with no real allegiance to any true ideology

and right now, we must contrast such a flighty wanker with real freedom fighters, dying in iranian prisons right now, because they dare defy the regime and try to express freedoms we take for granted in the west every day

such true freedom fighters, young people with real ideals and real ideology, paying for those beliefs in their own blood and death: those dying in iranian prisons right now, in prison simply for saying what they believe, these iranians understand exactly what my comment here is all about

and would have nothing but disgust for the spineless wanker i am responding to

Prior Art? (1)

thethirdwheel (1291594) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326068)

Not that this helps the root problem, which is that a research lab has to blow its budget on lawyers to defend their work, but I have to imagine that the original research group published a paper either about the method, or using the method, since that's the primary deliverable for most research. If that's the case, they've almost certainly got a strong prior art case.

Medical Patents (1, Troll)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326126)

No one should have the right to patent anything used in the medical field. You create a wonder drug that can cure cancer or something, you have a responsibility as a human being to allow the world to use it.
Besides, if you didn't invent it, screw off.

Re:Medical Patents (4, Insightful)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326286)

Double edged sword. It can take decades of time and millions upon millions to spit out one thing useful. Patents give return on investment.

I'd love research done for research's sake too, but pragmatism has this nasty habit of beating the snot out of idealism.

However...
Besides, if you didn't invent it, screw off.
Damn right. StemCells needs to be staplegunned to the wall for this crap...as well as the Patent Office being held liable too, since someone didn't do their prior art research.

Do it at the Salk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326136)

Presumably the Salk Institute owns the prior art and possesses contemporary documentation of it. Schwartz could conceivably return to the Salk and continue his work there, unimpeded by the patent holder. The same goes for anyone working at the Salk.

Too bad Schwartz didn't publish before StemCells filed for a patent. Then everyone (not just those working at the Salk Institute) could have benefited immediately from his work.

On a related topic:
Why shouldn't academic/research centers have to pay to license fees? Of course these are mostly non-profit institutions, but none of them are no-profit.

Move overseas, probably cheaper in the long run (1)

kaptink (699820) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326268)

Why not take your processes and ideas overseas and do your treatments elsewhere? It sucks that this guy got done by a patent troll but as others have pointed out you have to be prepared, especially in the US where greedy companies are on the prowl for other peoples ideas. This shouldnt stop this group from moving to another country and continuing their good work. If people want these kinds of treatments, they will travel. And if a patent troll is going to try and milk the whole thing for all its worth its probably cheaper in the long run to go overseas anyway. I'd be very public about it all. So what happend to the prior art? Doesnt documented prior research and proven results trump a patent?

How much more evidence we need? (0, Troll)

CondeZer0 (158969) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326272)

Before we recognize that the patent system harms innovation and society as a whole [cat-v.org] ?

It encourages making money via artificial monopolies instead of what honest participants in a real free market need to do: competitively provide products and services that consumers want.

More name publishing (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326310)

If I lived near Palo Alto, I'd gladly join in picketing Dr. Weissman's house and office. But since I'm 3000 miles away, the best I can do is relay information about him for those of us who need to protest remotely:

http://med.stanford.edu/profiles/stemcell/researcher/Irving_Weissman/

irv@stanford.edu

Admin. aide: ljquinn@stanford.edu, 650-723-6520

Patent, Publish or Keep a Secret (3, Insightful)

Artagel (114272) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326348)

When someone develops a technology, their choices are generally to patent it themselves, publish it to give it to the public, or keep the development a secret. If a company indeed developed the technology independently, and there was no making the knowledge public, then the secret-keeper can have a problem. The patent system encourages developments to be made public, but with benefits for doing so. One of the detriments is that if you keep a secret, you may find someone else decides to patent it. Then you are can be an infringer. This is a rarer instance. Most often in the not-for-profit world, people choose to publish. In fact, early publication is the biggest threat to universities getting patents on professors' developments.

IP ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326504)

The tech community sure seems ignorant of intellectual property law. It doesn't help to bury your head in the sand like Schwartz and the Salk Institute seem to have done.

Good, objective scientific press... (1)

adbge (1693228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326646)

As for the people that donated their dead child's brain to research, those valuable stem cell cultures have been kept in storage instead of being disseminated to research labs (who desperately need them) across the country.

Gotta love some good hyperbole. Not only are they evil corporations, but they are after the brains of dead children!

Think of the Children (1)

Bugamn (1769722) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326676)

Won't they think of the poor dead children that donated their brains for this research?

Patent troll? I think so. (3, Interesting)

yossie (93792) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326724)

Executive summery, fourth paragraph:
"We have over forty issued U.S. patents, plus foreign equivalents to some fourteen of our U.S. patents and applications, for a total of over one hundred and seventy individual patents worldwide."
This company is clearly a patent troll, NOT a technology company. Shame shame shame.

Why patent laws need to be changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32326866)

This is utter bs. Patents should not be allowed on processes, ONLY physical items/tools. The person should also be required to submit documentaiton that proves they put forth the capitol or inventive means to create the tool uncontested.
I am going to patent the placing your hand over your mouth when you cough so that everyone that does it infringes in my patent and either has to pay me or change.
I will then patent the arm, leg, and the whole coughing process in general. Hopefully as a result all these moroms can get sick and die.

Come on Human Race get your heads out of the sand, get rid of lawyers, patents, and copy rights and start from scratch. Society first, should patents exist, yes, they give insentive to the people that spend the money.

Simple law, if you even hold a patent it does not stop others from producing it, but others have to pay a set (say 10%) price to the patent holder for research expenses. This will allow competativeness and still give the develop something to fund their next research, by not barring anyone from developing what they create. It would also spur pure research companies.
Additionally the government could hold patents for things they invent, NASA budget problems, what budget problems, 100% funding by the millions of patents they should have owned.

It would dramatically reduce the need for lawyers (A waste of space profession to begin with), as most the time they spend tons of money to lawyers just to be able to build something, this would give them a set price if they didn't want to spend the millions to fight the patent. Secondly they could be producing it while the lawsuit is going on, and if they win the patent holder would have to hand over the money they earned from the patent, including what the company paid to them that was contesting it. So no brains in storage required, move forward let the money fall in place after the smoke settles.

Small companies no longer have to sell their patents. So Mac and Microsoft want to use a nifty invention, they both can without and chance of being sued, this little guy that can't hope to compete right away gets a butt load of cash from them. A few years we have a new competitor, or someone that was creative and made it rich. This would also reduce lags in technology caused by researching if they can use a technology. They can, now they just start development and let the money people worry about patents. Accelerated technology is a big plus.

A way to get non-open source thinkers into sharing and hopefully playing nice for a bigger brighter future.

Patent Legal Requirements (1)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32326976)

Whatever happened to that really old legal requirement for patents? You know the one where you actually have to be the inventor to patent it...

StemCells Inc. will probably regret this (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32327016)

This patent troll has over-extended itself: the researchers will be able to prove their prior-art research and at the end of the day, the StemCells inc. patent will be invalidated - and they have nobody else but themselves to blame.

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