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173 comments

Clearly (3, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#36931924)

Clearly, patents and copyrights are keeping humanity back from development and prosperity.

Re:Clearly (4, Insightful)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 2 years ago | (#36931938)

Really? Then what's the motivation to cure cancer if there's no profit in it? I mean, Pasteur, Salk and Fleming all retired multi-billionaires, right?

Re:Clearly (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36931962)

What a poor world you live in where everything has to be measured in monetary profit.

Re:Clearly (0)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#36931972)

What a strange world you live in where everything is free.

Re:Clearly (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932030)

What a poor world you live in where everything has to be measured in monetary profit.

What a strange world you live in where everything is free.

Don't you recognise him? That post was made by Montgomery Scott when they came for the whales. They didn't show it in the movie, but only a Slashdotter could type as fast as he did.

Re:Clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932350)

>>> Then what's the motivation to cure cancer if there's no profit in it?

Sometimes just asking a question will tell lots about a guy or his culture.

>> What a poor world you live in where everything has to be measured in monetary profit.

Indeed that {would be | is} a sad world in which to live.

> What a strange world you live in where everything is free.

Do you want to pay? If so, you're weird.

Do you want to charge us? Then I'd say you're dellusional.

Re:Clearly (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932454)

Until replicators exist, and you can instantly generate anything you want, there will continue to be some sort of money to exchange for goods and services.

without money, you can not obtain these goods and services. specifically, you will not be able to procure food, shelter, clothing, or the other requirements of life.

Without these items, you will die. money is required to live.

Note: there are places where you can obtain food and clothing without you yourself exchanging money for them, and similarly there are places where you can live on a temporary basis without paying. However, somebody paid for that food that you ate. It was still purchased. Money was still required. The building you're in still cost money in materials and labor to construct. Money was still required. Somebody purchased the clothes that were donated to you.

The one exception is if you are yourself growing the food you eat, building your own house, and weaving your own clothes. If so, congratulations you are Amish. I dig your hat.

Re:Clearly (2)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932398)

Just because they can't patent something it has no value? That's a fucked up mentality.

Re:Clearly (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933392)

Just because they can't patent something it has no value? That's a fucked up mentality.

But if you get cancer, the patent troll lawyers would sue you for infringing on their patents. So, you get screwed for being healthy, you get screwed for being sick and you really get the shaft paying for medical "cures" that don't work, never have and never will. I love this country!

Re:Clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932924)

So you expect all those researchers and everyone involved to work for free? I mean, you don't charge anything for your employer for your time, right?

Re:Clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932968)

Being motivated solely by profit and being fairly compensated for your work are not necessarily the same thing. Where did he claim he expected it to be free?

Re:Clearly (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933782)

That is a dishonest argument. There are other forms of revenue to pay for cancer research. I don't believe for a second that you have never heard of any of them. http://www.google.com/search?q=cancer+donations&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a [google.com]

You might not think it is enough money, but it is simply dishonest to even imply that patents is the only way to pay for researchers.

Re:Clearly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932020)

This isn't a patent on cancer _treatment_, but a patent on the huna genome itself.

All they did was poke around and discover a gene that was already there. They created nothing.

Re:Clearly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932692)

Thank you for pointing out a key idea in the fallacy of patents. They didn't create a damned thing.

Re:Clearly (4, Interesting)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932028)

There is already no profit in cancer cure, as it would be immoral to refuse it to sick people, and people who develop it can not possibly collect enough money from the sick to cover their expenses. This is why it can be only developed in government-run or government-sponsored programs -- and we should better get accustomed to it.

Re:Clearly (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932830)

You hit the nail on the head.

In fact there are already cures for cancer. They involve oxygenating or alkalinizing the body, among other things.

However, cancer treatments are so lucrative that anyone curing cancer would face the wrath of the pharmaceutical cartel.

Re:Clearly (1, Interesting)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933512)

You hit the nail on the head.

In fact there are already cures for cancer. They involve oxygenating or alkalinizing the body, among other things.

However, cancer treatments are so lucrative that anyone curing cancer would face the wrath of the pharmaceutical cartel.

This is true. Look at Royal R. Rife, Wilhelm Reich, the elements in medicinal marijuana, MMS. Anything not forbidden will be denied.
Modern allopathic medicine refuses to look at any protocol not endorsed by big pharma. Modern medicine is only good for trauma and breast implants. Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayervedic medicine are better for chronic issues. These two forms of therapy have thousands of years of data and prove to be effective, just look at the size of their populations.

Re:Clearly (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932836)

There is already no profit in cancer cure, as it would be immoral to refuse it to sick people.

Treatment is already refused to sick people in the US who either have no health insurance, whose health insurance won't cover a particular procedure, or who can't afford to pay out-of-pocket.

Re:Clearly (1)

Alef (605149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932108)

I mean, Pasteur, Salk and Fleming all retired multi-billionaires, right?

What is your point? We still have polio vaccine, penicillin and pasteurization.

Re:Clearly (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932156)

Pasteur was fairly wealthy. Other than vaccines he invented Pasteurization. he was a general consultant in his day being hired by a lot of different businesses to solve a variety of problems. The vaccines came late in his life

Re:Clearly (4, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932234)

I'm astounded none of the siblings get the sarcasm here...

None of these men made fortunes from patent rights on a single notable invention.

Most notably, Jonas Salk said, when asked who owned his vaccine - "The people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

Re:Clearly (0)

Lord Juan (1280214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932834)

In the United States you can. (Applying for a patent on a system to fuse hydrogen into helium by gravitational force, prior art be damned).

Re:Clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36933566)

Could you patent the sun?"

I'm sure some motherfucker would try.

Re:Clearly (2)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932378)

Really? Then what's the motivation to cure cancer if there's no profit in it? I mean, Pasteur, Salk and Fleming all retired multi-billionaires, right?

What a narrow mind you must have to imagine that the only way to profit is to restrict others from moving forward. It should be possible to seek to profit. It should not be possible to seek to stop others producing what you refuse to just so you can price gouge.

If people could demand a cut of the profits when other companies use their invention or discovery but could not prevent them from producing it in the first place, we'd be so much better off!!!

Re:Clearly (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933118)

What a narrow mind you must have

Who has the narrower mind?

The one who does not even know that Pasteur, Salk and Fleming were not multi-billionaires?

The one who does not even bother looking them up before posting a reply accusing someone of having a narrow mind?

The one who does not understand what the OP was actually saying?

Re:Clearly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932498)

Aren't genes and their functions discovered? How can you patent something that was not invented?

Re:Clearly (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932708)

Newton, Einstein, Curie, Planck, Hawking, Bohr, Sagan, Hubble, Galileo, Plato, Socrates, Eratosthenes, Leibniz, Descartes, Aristotle, etc.

They were all motivated by money. Which makes perfect since, because not only where they not particularly rich, but also more successful than any billionaire living eve

Re:Clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36933970)

To those only interested in money (the greedy) it would make sense that the only motivation that is understood is financial. We live within a culture of greed. If you are pissed off at this statement and want to vehemently post about how money and patents are NECESSARY, and otherwise we would all starve, be miserable etc etc. Consider yourself greedy. And to the others... Give it up, the greedy will never be persuaded by argument, they are by definition only self interested.

Re:Clearly (1)

damienl451 (841528) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932726)

1) This is the low-hanging fruit. It has been picked already. Most of the things that we could just "stumble upon" or discover/isolate rather easily are long gone, simply because many people have looked very hard for a very long time. It's just diminishing returns and it also explains why we've been making slower progress in many fields: what was easy to discover has been discovered already. There's the hard(er) stuff left and it takes more money and more effort.

2) Nowadays, Pasteur would get prosecuted. Testing a vaccine on a few dogs before administering it to a child just doesn't cut it anymore. You need a multi-million dollar clinical trial before the FDA will even consider approving your new drug. And it's not enough that it's safe; it also has to be effective enough.

Re:Clearly (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933190)

Clearly you do not understand the FDA and how it works. One can make a pretty blanket statement that the drug/food with the biggest bucks behind it, found to be ineffective or even dangerous, will be approved, and recommended AND pograms against better performing natural substances will be initiated to protect the profits of the big bucks people.

There are exceptions to any rule, and they will act to take something back off the market when the death count from it achieves both public knowledge, and is becoming an embarrassment to the agency. But it takes both conditions to be true before they act to remove a dangerous drug.

In the meantime they shut down the kids summertime lemonade stands, or take a swat team into a dairy farm and destroy 1000 gallons of fresh milk because its raw milk. I was raised on it, I raised my kids on it and I will shortly achieve the age where the actuarial tables say I should fall over.

It is an agency that needs an overseer with common sense, which is apparently very uncommon in DC these days.

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:Clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36933180)

Hi, University researcher here. I'm not rich at all,but I am working on cures off of a grant from the ~$30 Billion budget of the NIH. My motivation is to well.. find a cure.

It's also to publish, get future grants, and become better respected in my field. All the rest of those come with finding a cure.

You might not see the motivation, but for many folks, finding a cure would be motivation enough.

Re:Clearly (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933920)

Really? Then what's the motivation to cure cancer if there's no profit in it? I mean, Pasteur, Salk and Fleming all retired multi-billionaires, right?

You might want to think about how many decades of work, how much money and manpower it took to get a safe and effective polio vaccine into global distribution.

Penicillin offers another example:

The challenge of mass-producing this drug was daunting. On March 14, 1942, the first patient was treated for streptococcal septicemia with U.S.-made penicillin produced by Merck & Co. Half of the total supply produced at the time was used on that one patient. By June 1942, there was just enough U.S. penicillin available to treat ten patients. In July 1943, the War Production Board drew up a plan for the mass distribution of penicillin stocks to Allied troops fighting in Europe. A moldy cantaloupe in a Peoria, Illinois, market in 1943 was found to contain the best and highest-quality penicillin after a worldwide search. The discovery of the cantaloupe, and the results of fermentation research on corn steep liquor at the Northern Regional Research Laboratory at Peoria, Illinois, allowed the United States to produce 2.3 million doses in time for the invasion of Normandy in the spring of 1944. Large-scale production resulted from the development of deep-tank fermentation by chemical engineer Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau. As a direct result of the war and the War Production Board, by June 1945 over 646 billion units per year were being produced.

Penicillian [wikipedia.org]

To not fucking die from cancer (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 2 years ago | (#36934006)

Pretty simple. I mean unless you're immune to cancer and don't like anyone else on the planet.

Re:Clearly (1)

evilbessie (873633) | more than 2 years ago | (#36931946)

Holding America back, the rest of the world doesn't allow this sort of shit to happen (we have our own pointless crap).

Then which country? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36931964)

So if someone wants to emigrate from a country being held back by monopolists, which country do you recommend and how should one qualify for legal immigration?

Re:Then which country? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932164)

I'd say Antarctica, since that's about it. OTOH, sadly, I'm willing to wager that since it's under UN purview of the US, Russia, Argentina (seriously), France, and a few others, well...

I'm thinking your only real hope at the point involves a colony on Mars, and even then I'm not so sure that wouldn't get jacked at first opportunity.

Re:Clearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932060)

Yeah, absolutely the best justice money can buy.

Re:Clearly (2)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932006)

The thing is, copyright (and IP in general) gives power. And everyone knows power corrupts. So they lobby for more power. It's all a very natural thing.

While I agree that a reasonable copyright/patent system should exist, the current trend is complete and utter garbage. Software patents? ok. 1 or 2 years. Copyrights? ok. 10 years max. And so on...

Not copyright 753 years after the author's death for god's sake !!!!!!!!!

* 753 was a typo, but I felt like leaving it there.

Re:Clearly (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933942)

Obviously the courts are proving to be lackeys of the uber rich as well as politicians. It's about time to put them all against the wall.

How it went... (2)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#36931930)

The reasoning being something like this: "If there is money to be made of it then of course it should be patentable".
After the ruling the judge was seen leaving the scene in a limousine filled with naked ladies leased by Myriad.

Hypothetically, (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36931932)

If isolating part of a molecule makes it "markedly different", then doing the reverse and, say, sticking pirated software inside a Zip archive makes something "markedly different" and thus completely legal to share.

Re:Hypothetically, (1)

ToThoseOfUs (2377416) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932298)

and the corollary, if I am only uploading part of a file, then that part is "markedly different", ipso facto legal to share.

self-appointed/worshipping neogods separate us (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36931934)

take comfort in knowing that they remain safe & excessively comfortable despite our failing desire to understand the need for them, or their murderous holycostal behaviors at all.

still showing up here there & everywhere

should it not be considered that the domestic threats to all of us/our
freedoms be intervened on/removed, so we wouldn't be compelled to hide our
sentiments, &/or the truth, about ANYTHING, including the origins of the
hymenology council, & their sacred mission? with nothing left to hide,
there'd be room for so much more genuine quantifiable progress?

you call this 'weather'? much of our land masses/planet are going under
water, or burning up, as we fail to consider anything at all that really
matters, as we've been instructed that we must maintain our silence (our
last valid right?), to continue our 'safety' from... mounting terror.

meanwhile, back at the raunch; there are exceptions? the unmentionable
sociopath weapons peddlers are thriving in these times of worldwide
sufferance? the royals? our self appointed murderous neogod rulers? all
better than ok, thank..... us. their stipends/egos/disguises are secure,
so we'll all be ok/not killed by mistaken changes in the MANufactured
'weather', or being one of the unchosen 'too many' of us, etc...?

truth telling & disarming are the only mathematically & spiritually
correct options. read the teepeeleaks etchings. see you there?

diaperleaks group worldwide.

who are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36933176)

You should collect all of your rantings together and release them as a book.

I'd buy it for the lulz. :D

Next up (1)

Skal Tura (595728) | more than 2 years ago | (#36931960)

Someone has patented aspirin and ibuprofen. The 2 most common over the counter pain killers.

After that hospitals are sued over a patent on health care procedure.

That's just before all car sales have to be stopped because someone has patented the gas tank lid.

Re:Next up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36931978)

Surely you're kidding about aspirin and ibuprofen. Both were developed by drug companies; they're not apples that fell from the trees into the drugstore.

Re:Next up (2)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932012)

Aspirin though was more or less in use a few thousand years before the patent and tradename was invented. Although as a natural medicine. See wikipedia for details.

Re:Next up (3, Informative)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932046)

Surely you're kidding about aspirin and ibuprofen. Both were developed by drug companies; they're not apples that fell from the trees into the drugstore.

One of those fell from a willow tree and has been used for more than 25 centuries... (Salicylic acid [wikipedia.org] ) the trademark Aspirin was developed by a drug company, around the same time as Heroin.

Re:Next up (2, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932098)

And I'm sure the patent has expired which is why the drug companies are suffering to sell these products.

Oh wait. Guess you don't need a patent to sell stuff after all.

Re:Next up (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#36931982)

... because someone has patented the gas tank lid.

Just a minute... Aaaaaaaand, that's done. Thanks for the tip.

See ya in 10 years when my patent on the tank lid is granted. I'll start spending right away. Looks like the sensible thing to do right now.

Re:Next up (4, Interesting)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932034)

Good point on aspirin. Aspirin *was* patented a long time ago. The patent has long expired, but companies still seem to make a lot of money off of selling it, even though anyone can buy dirt cheap acetylsalicylic acid from Dow and infuse it into their own tablets for next to nothing.

Have you ever tried making tablets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932880)

Granted, aspirin is pretty much the only drug on the market which can be compacted into tablets without needing excipients (lactose, starch, etc) but it's still not Timmy's First Science Project. "Infuse it into their own tablets"? Do you have any idea how expensive tabletting machines are, or what's actually involved in tabletting? It's not as though this is something that could be done by ordinary people in their homes. And given that 75mg aspirin tablets have a UK Drug Tariff price of 79p for 28 tablets (ie, the NHS will not pay more than 79p, or about $1.30), the drug companies probably aren't making much of a profit.

Then again, this is Slashdot. People enjoy spreading FUD about pharmacy when they know nothing about it.

Re:Have you ever tried making tablets? (1)

Richard Dick Head (803293) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933100)

Who said it needs to be a pill? Guess you've never lived in the South...

Ever heard of BC powders [wikipedia.org] ? Powdered aspirin in a wax paper envelope that you open carefully and pour down your gullet and chase with a glass of sweet tea. Really old-fashioned, and tastes like hell, sure, but it works better than any pill.

Re:Have you ever tried making tablets? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933432)

No. But I'll ask some of the people with the basement labs cranking out Ecstasy tablets.

Re:Next up (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933798)

Ok, here's how drugs work in a nutshell:

1. Figure out if a compound cures a disease without killing people. The answer to this is basically "yes" or "no" and costs about $50M. It is "no" about 99.999% of the time, although 99% of the time you can get the "no" for maybe $25k. Sure, there is a lot of other information you learn, but the bottom line comes down to whether the drug helps more than it hurts, and people will pay for it if it does.

2. Once you have a compound and a "yes" you can make the pills for 5 cents each, and sell them for whatever you can get.

So, for any drug ALREADY on the market you know the answer to #1, and so can easily make a profit selling pills for 5 cents each. The problem is that nobody wants to pay for #1, so the way it works is somebody spends the $25k about 10,000 times and the $50M maybe 5-10 times until they find a compound that works, and since they have a patent on it they can make the pills for 5 cents and sell them for $5 each and recoup their initial investment.

So, it really isn't surprising that people can make a profit on unpatented medications, since the initial investment was already recouped and new companies can skip #1. The problem is that you can't get new medications without patents unless somebody wants to fund the full end-to-end R&D. Academic labs currently come up with ideas that ultimately lead to drugs, but they almost never pay the huge costs involved in testing compounds since it is basically boring work. However, somebody has to pay that cost if you want to have drugs.

And for the record, I'm fine with having the government do this, but I'd prefer that until somebody actually spends the money to make it happen that we not dismantle the entire pharmaceutical industry in the meantime.

Alright, I read the Techdirt article (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932032)

Summary: The appeals court believes that when isolating individual genes, it somehow makes them "unnatural" to the point where they are patentable. Because, at this point, they're no longer "found in nature" (in the form of isolated genes), they're now patentable.

Mike Masnick seems to have the right idea here and notes the following.

Basically, they seem to be arguing that because a severed finger is not attached to a hand, the finger is not naturally occurring, and, thus, is patentable. Think about that. The dissenting judge in this ruling used a slightly less gruesome analogy, saying that the majority was basically saying that while a tree occurs in nature, snapping a leaf off the tree makes that leaf patentable.

And, of course, the opinion of the dissenting judge points this out too and how Myriad hasn't "invented" the gene so this is idiotic.

Me, I gotta agree with that. The technique for isolating specific genes, as the dissenting judge also notes, is probably really difficult and should be patentable. No problem there. But saying something you've *created* with that technique is patentable is complete and utter nonsense. It would be like saying, by processing gold ore (which is the natural form of gold) into refined gold, you now own a patent on all refined gold. (Note that this was also the judge's example and I"m just trying to translate it to something simpler.)

Myriad is claiming the genes themselves, which appear in nature on the chromosomes of living human beings. The only material change made to those genes from their natural state is the change that is necessarily incidental to the extraction of the genes from the environment in which they are found in nature. While the process of extraction is no doubt difficult, and may itself be patentable, the isolated genes are not materially different from the native genes. In this respect, the genes are analogous to the “new mineral discovered in the earth,” or the “new plant found in the wild” that the Supreme Court referred to in Chakrabarty. It may be very difficult to extract the newly found mineral or to find, extract, and propagate the newly discovered plant. But that does not make those naturally occurring items the products of invention.

Now, if they'd done *something* to the gene to make it better, to make it so that it's inherently different from "natural" genes or at least that they altered it without prior knowledge of other similar genes, I'd give them a pass. But isolating a specific part of a gene and patenting it as if it were something they invented? Hideous.

Re:Alright, I read the Techdirt article (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933258)

What about in the future when somebody figures out how to invent genes? It's technologically impossible at the present, but I can definitely see folks figuring out how to do that, predicting the outcome would be challenging.

But, what happens if somebody invents a gene that already exists but is not yet discovered? Would they be able to sue the offending organisms for infringement.

And yes, this is a slippery slope and not yet inevitable, but I do wonder if this isn't the direction we're headed.

Obviousness (4, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932066)

I thought only inventions could be patented, not discoveries? Does the judge need a dictionary?

Re:Obviousness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932132)

No doubt. The logic is flawed. If i found a stick on the ground and is not a part of the tree, would that then make it also not found in nature and therefore patentable?

Stupid Federals. What is the process by which citizens can show their disgust with Federal judges to get some ousted without an Egypt gathering?

Re:Obviousness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932314)

What is the process by which citizens can show their disgust with Federal judges to get some ousted without an Egypt gathering?

I would suggest gathering in your own country. The Egyptians have enough to deal with without you lot showing up.
Historically though, the only processes known to actually bring about this kind of change all involve death in one way or another.

Re:Obviousness (2)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932172)

Fine line though right? If I develop a new type of super-light but super-strong steel, should I be allowed to patent the chemical formula that makes up compound? Is my new type of steel an invention or a discovery? This compound is a mixture of pre-existing things, carbon, iron, etc., but in a way never before done. Does it exist it nature? Chances are there might be a few molecules existing somewhere out there in the universe, that just haven't been found.

For what it's worth though, I am completely and utterly against gene patents. It's kind of gray, given my previous example, but Isolating a gene in the genome is definitely not an invention in my book.

Re:Obviousness (4, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932430)

If I develop a new type of super-light but super-strong steel, should I be allowed to patent the chemical formula that makes up compound? Is my new type of steel an invention or a discovery? This compound is a mixture of pre-existing things, carbon, iron, etc., but in a way never before done.

That's pretty much the definition of an invention. You're putting things that already exist in a novel way. The key here is "novel." IE non-obvious. You can't make cantaloupe-flavored gum and patent it - you're just making a new flavor of something that's already flavored. Now, if you make gum that can be used to reliably patch a flat tire - that's novel, nobody has made gum that can do that.

The problem with gene patents is that you are patenting the observation of how something already works. It would be like Niels Bohr patenting chemical interactions, so anyone who mixed substances together to create new compounds would have been infringing on his patent, even though he just figured out exactly how it worked.

Re:Obviousness (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932432)

You can't patent the new steel, but you can patent the process for creating it. If someone figures out a separate process that also creates the same result, they can use that without paying you royalties, and even patent it themselves.

More simply, the steel is a discovery, the process for creating it is an invention.

Re:Obviousness (1)

OnionFighter (1569855) | more than 2 years ago | (#36934046)

I'm sorry, but steel isn't a chemical, and doesn't have a chemical formula since it is not composed of molecules.

Re:Obviousness (1)

Grond (15515) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932768)

From the Patent Act: "The term 'invention' means invention or discovery." 35 USC 100 [cornell.edu] . Furthermore, "Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made." 35 USC 103 [cornell.edu] . So a chance discovery is just as patentable as the result of a planned experiment.

You can argue that there should be a distinction between inventions and discoveries, but the current US patent laws explicitly preclude such a distinction.

Re:Obviousness (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933278)

Not really, by that logic somebody could have patented fire rather than the process of making it. If I accidentally held a magnifying glass at the right angle I could accidentally discover how to create fire, but the lens method would be the part that could be patented, not the light and not the result. I could also possibly patent the lens if it hadn't already been patented.

But, in this case, the lens doesn't exist naturally and as a result could theoretically be patented. A gene is a gene and if you get it from a natural source it is still a naturally occurring item.

Re:Obviousness (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933516)

Actually, there is a whole class of patents for biological inventions. In the good old days, these were derived by breeding and hybridization, and Luther Burbank and George Washington Carver got their fame by inventing new plants and animals. So patenting a gene that occurs naturally is related to this type of patent. The thing is, the law doesn't say you can patent isolated genes, it says you can patent new plants and animals. i.e., all of the DNA and genes that distinguish the new breed from others and allow it to breed true.

On the other hand, the fact that this ruling narrows the patent to a patent on the gene itself should mean that these guys can't try to collect royalties from anyone or anything for which the gene appears as part of their DNA sequence. In that case the gene is NOT isolated and does not exist "separately". So what we have here is a ruling designed to allow the patent(s) on genetic tests while not allowing patents of (human) genes in sequence. Why these clowns couldn't just patent their test and not the gene is beyond me. Maybe it's too similar to an existing test and is considered "obvious".

Injunction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932116)

So, suppose my wife & I procreate (I know, it's /., so it's unlikely on many levels, but bear with me for a minute), and through combination and/or mutation, our offspring happens to wind up with one of the "patented" genes. Can said child be sued, and can the court issue an injunction against continued production or use of said "patented" gene by the child? If not - and I would say that the entire idea is ludicrous - then they really can't be patented. With a patent, they're supposed to be able to prevent you from even making your own "thing", not just from selling it. From Wikipedia: "The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission." This is part of why you can't patent natural things. It makes no sense to do so - you can't exercise the rights over nature!

Re:Injunction (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932444)

So, suppose my wife & I procreate (I know, it's /., so it's unlikely on many levels, but bear with me for a minute), and through combination and/or mutation, our offspring happens to wind up with one of the "patented" genes. Can said child be sued, and can the court issue an injunction against continued production or use of said "patented" gene by the child?

No, what's patented is the gene isolated from the rest of a human genome. So such a child would not be allowed to take their genome and cut it up in any way they wanted...

Boxes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932162)

Americans, It's time to bring out your boxes, in sequence. (the sequence that start with soap boxes)

When our own blood becomes restricted product (2)

Sethra (55187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932206)

I can see a time when a disease is cured thru gene therapy at which time our own ability to donate blood is banned in the same way Monsanto bans the distribution of their genetically modified crops.

I can no longer sit back and allow Corporate infiltration, Corporate indoctrination, Corporate subversion and the international Corporate conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Explain to me possible implications ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932262)

I remember, couple years ago reading about the case where one of the Stanford (I think) researches created website to share with other academia his findings in DNA. Soon he found himself in a lot of trouble with BioTech companies. Case went to court........... and I remember reading that "common sense won". Academia was happy !

Now, I open slashdot and see that "common sense lost" once again.

So what happened now ?

Thanks !

Patenting a discovery? (1)

FreakyGreenLeaky (1536953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932406)

That's like patenting a mathematical formula, or an algorithm, or software,... oh wait, we're talking about the USA.

Re:Patenting a discovery? (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932542)

In case you hadn't noticed... the USA has a habit of pressuring other countries into mimicking many of its own laws and practices. When it comes to nations they are already on good terms with, this is especially true in issues surrounding IP rights. So the rest of the world may have legitimate reason to be concerned.

I would like to tell that judge (2)

MonkeySpaceCapsule (1314937) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932460)

That I completely agree and that ripping a DVD onto my hard drive constitutes creating that is not the same as the original movie. The actual information contained in the frames of video is completely irrelevant as it is isolated from the optical media at that point. I should be able to patent/copyright DVD rips, then distribute them according to my license,

Re:I would like to tell that judge (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932554)

That I completely agree and that ripping a DVD onto my hard drive constitutes creating that is not the same as the original movie. The actual information contained in the frames of video is completely irrelevant as it is isolated from the optical media at that point. I should be able to patent/copyright DVD rips, then distribute them according to my license,

And a twisted misunderstanding of copyrights has what all to do with patents? For the thousandth time patents != copyrights.

DNA, RNA, and Genes (5, Informative)

rockmuelle (575982) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932572)

The judge's reasoning in the ruling hinges on the fact that the BRCA1/2 genes do not appear in nature as isolated, unmodified DNA and instead only appear in DNA form as part of a (much) larger chromosome. While technically true, it ignores an important fact of genomics: while the BRCA genes do not appear in vivo as isolated _DNA_, the do appear as isolated _RNA_. The RNA counterpart of the DNA sequence is slightly modified - it is the 'reverse-complement' of the DNA with the T's replaced with U's (for example, AACC - (reverse complement) -> GGTT - (sub U for T) -> GGUU.

So, in a very perverse way, the judge is correct. The isolated, unmodified DNA does not appear in nature.

There is natural mechanism for converting RNA back into DNA called reverse transcription (RT). RT-based methods are how we sequence genes. RNA from genes is isolated and converted back into DNA for sequencing. This is a standard lab method and used for all gene sequencing. (interestingly, if someone were to find RT at work in a cell converting BRCA genes back to DNA, the patent could be invalidated.)

The gene itself, in RNA form, appears isolated in nature. The RNA sequence cannot be patented. But, sequencing methods all rely on converting RNA back to DNA for sequencing. The sequence is read as DNA. But, that's not really the gene, that's just a modified representation of the gene. The functioning gene is the RNA version, not the DNA copy of it.

What's frustrating is that Myriad is using a technical aspect of how gene/RNA sequencing works to claim a patent on a gene itself.

-Chris

Re:DNA, RNA, and Genes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36934072)

Minor correction: The RNA is more than slightly modified from the DNA, unfortunately; introns (think comments) are spliced out leaving only exons (machine code). Trying to dis-assemble the RNA can get you cDNA (complimentary DNA), but fails to reproduce the introns. Thus applying RT to the "BRCA RNA" would produce a complimentary DNA strand that is not equivalent to the original BRCA DNA because it is missing large segments of introns.

Introns may not be explicitly coded in the final protein, but they are important in modulating DNA->RNA transcription.

if one were to break the law and create a cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932646)

one would no doubt spur a revolution where ordinary people wake up and call bullshit on the lawyers and courts. one would seemingly cure cancer of the body and cancer of society in one fell swoop.

Good news, bad news (1)

12WTF$ (979066) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932720)

Doctor: I regret to inform you that you have inoperable cancer.
You: fufufufufuf!!!!!!ck
Doctor: And the bad news is....
You: ????
Doctor: You are now willfully infringing on MegaDeathPharm exclusive cancer patent.
You: !!!!
Doctor: A lawyer with a kitchen knife will now extract one of your kidneys for the pre settlement bond.
Next!

Only solution left (3, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#36932752)

Since the courts are insane beyond recall there is only one option left. Congress needs to pass a law. Throw the creationists a bone to get them on board. Mandate the Patent Office to assume the design of every existing natural creature was patented by God with the issue date in 4000BC. And to stop the next step direct the Library of Congress to assume He filed a copyright on the full genome of every creature on the same date. Then direct them to assume any gene sequence derived from a naturally occurring creature is a derived work so that only the new material is eligible for a new copyright if it is different enough and separate enough from the original work.

Re:Only solution left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36932786)

Only in the USA ladies and gents... birth place of all things wrong, including allowing the drop of A-bombs on 340,000 japanese civilians.

Re:Only solution left (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933136)

Only in the USA ladies and gents... birth place of all things wrong, including allowing the drop of A-bombs on 340,000 japanese civilians.

Someone could use a bit of a history lesson. The US hardly "invented" such things, as you suggest.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre [wikipedia.org]
In 1937, during the Nanking Massacre, the Japanese murdered in the neighborhood of 200,000 Chinese civilians, and 20,000 were raped. Carpet bombing was also a standard MO of European nations during WWII, which caused the death of massive numbers of civilians. The US just made it easier and quicker to do with a single bomb- which Germany was also working on.
In any case, I agree that the US patent and copyright system is out of control. What should or could be patented is the process of isolating the gene, not the gene itself, regardless of it's so-called "natural" genesis.

Re:Only solution left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36933182)

You have got to be trolling. Go educate yourself.

Re:Only solution left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36933676)

But those balloon firebombs the Japanese sent over here hoping to start major fires everywhere (you know, where civilians live) were A'OK huh?

Re:Only solution left (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933318)

+1,000,000

But since it almost makes sense, there will be congressmen retiring as billionaires that voted to defeat it.

I hope I live long enough to see the next revolution.

Cheers, Gene

A twin patented his genes (1)

DickBreath (207180) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933542)

The other twin had to pay royalties for life.

If he didn't want to pay, then he is a freetard.

Why is he against innovation?

He should be sued by the other twin whose innovative genius is proven by the very fact that he holds a patent.

Wow. genes can be patented. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#36933690)

so, the bastardry in america reached such a level that, something that has been inside of me, or my father, or his grand grandfather, or his grand grand grand father, can be 'patented' and therefore 'owned' by a son of whore in america ?

well. get a load of that.
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