Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Patents On Genes: Round Two

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the keep-'em-zipped dept.

Biotech 85

dstates writes "An industry has grown up around patents guaranteeing exclusive access to testing of mutations in specific genes, but recently the Supreme Court rejected a biotechnology patent saying laws of nature cannot be patented, and threw the issue of patents on genes back to the lower courts. The Court of Appeals is now preparing to hear arguments on whether genes can be patented. The results will have major implications. On the one hand, restricting access to whole regions of the human genome will stifle scientific progress. On the other, companies like Myriad Genetics and Optimal Medicine use the patents to protect years of work invested in research, but this also means preventing other companies from offering diagnostics based on competing faster and lower cost technologies to analyze mutations in these genes."

cancel ×

85 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Prior art? (4, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704131)

Unless a company/researcher can claim and show evidence that they have created a new mutation of a gene, wouldn't pretty much the entire history of the human species and human evolution be considered prior art for that gene?

Re:Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704221)

Better yet...

...the Supreme Court rejected a biotechnology patent saying laws of nature cannot be patented...

I'm surprised that a patent saying laws of nature cannot be patented made it all the way to the SCOTUS before it was thrown out!

Re:Prior art? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704285)

It only takes a single reasonably reputable court (a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals for example) to say yes and another to say no for the issue to require escalation to the Supreme court. Even if it was 10 yes and only 1 no, that still means there is ambiguity about the national stance on the issue and the SCOTUS should hear the case. It doesn't mean that all the judges in all the cases were saying the wrong thing until SCOTUS, it just means one judge said the wrong thing early enough in the issue's existence or with enough weight to introduce ambiguity on the legality nationwide.

Re:Prior art? (1)

Toam (1134401) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706841)

Woosh!

(But a good post, otherwise...)

Re:Prior art? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704401)

Dang, I filled a patent for gravity, and was planning to license it to airplanes, so they could fly on the ground. Which is much safer then flying in the air.

Re:Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704851)

Many more people die each year on the roads(ground) than in air accidents...

Re:Prior art? (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705339)

Only because they are infringing on my inertia patent!

Re:Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40705413)

The guys dying in airplane accidents usually also die on the ground and don't just evaporate in mid air.

UNARIUS - TEH SCNCE OF MYNDE! (1, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705481)

What if: The moon is a machine -- a lifeboat and "ark." [blogspot.com] It's hollow and "rings like a bell" when struck by space probes. It's the ideal space ship for transporting a large populations of dangerous outcasts (like humans) around the galaxy. It's huge, with mineral resources capable of sustained life-support and generating great power over long periods; and because of its uninteresting appearance, it's able to through galaxies without attracting attention from hostile forces. At 2,160 miles in diameter (6 x 6 x 6 in units of 10 miles),it's 108 times its own diameter from the earth -- as is the sun, an impossible ratio, which enables us to have statistically impossible total solar eclipses -- and that's what made astronomical confirmation of Einstein's theory of relativity possible. Also, despite a number of theories trying to explain its presence above us, the moon is not supposed to be there -- and yet it makes life possible on earth by providing the ocean tides necessary for plankton survival. The moon brought our ancestors to earth, and it will take our refugees somewhere else when the forces hunting us find us. Sounds like a plot for a great sci-fi novel -- or maybe it's the truth. :)

I do believe there's more than us. More than just other intelligent life. I believe our science AND religions are ALL part of a BIGGER EQUATION. You cannot have one without the other. The religion gives science a need to explore for answers. The science is needed to solidify/justify the religion. If you really do your "homework" and study up on some science and religions, you'll find that there is a coherency between them. Science is now answering some of Religions oldest, unanswered questions. There's a theory that "Heaven" may actually be a REAL place in our universe!!! Possibly some 541 light years away. Not sure about the legitimacy of that one (cool thought though), but I've seen how science is now able to prove what our oldest cultures knew and how some of our greatest technological mysteries can be answered. I think there's a WAY BIGGER picture that we are just now starting see through clues left behind by our ancestors. Look up HD/Torsion physics. It's a new science that's being more or less "hidden" or denied by mainstream science and media. In reality, it proves that Einstein had actually created/figured out THE UNIFIED FIELD THEORY back in the 50's!!!! Problem was that no one knew how to understand it or what it ment(or maybe they did) and thus it was labeled as "unfinished". HD/Torsion Physics answers those weird anomalies that current science can't explain. Theory stands that utilizing this science, you could create a field in which an object within that field would "weigh less" or more plainly, is dramatically less affected by the forces gravity. With this new perspective, the Egyptian Pyramids seem rather simplistic to build and could have been done by as little as one man. Theoretically, a child could have built them if he had the right tools. Sounds odd/crazy, yes I know. I said the same thing :) Then I did a little research after I had an interesting conversation with a few good friends. Well, that little research has turned into many years of answering questions, and at the same time finding more questions to be answered. All I know is that we are living in some exciting times and I am anxiously awaiting to see the results.

There can also be a possibility about an extinct prehistoric race, the hindu scriptures if studied carefully seems as if they are talking practical quantum physics, many great scientists referred to the vedas as the ultimate knowledge pool being avoided by mainstream scientists, books have been found named vimanashasthra which literelly translates in to the book of ships, vimana meant sir planes,, they have detailed description and even flight manuals in those books, propulsion systems, the clothes that a pilot should wear,, and yaa there are numerous accounts of space flights to moon and even an account of an aerial combat on the moon with what hindus called ashwins(some believe a word for the atlanteans)..this can really be the case as they are not active bases, they are ruins,, and what if the UFOs that we see belong to our ancestors only.

No doubt,there are things found on the moon that could shatter humanity's homo-centristic tradition of denial to any intelligence other than his own. A planetary awareness will bring another Coprinicus Revolution that we are not ignored or blundered upon, but studied and effected by powerful interests not our own.I recently saw a photo of a hole on the moon that was not created by meteor or volcanic activity.The width was hundreds of feet wide and deep.The bottom was lit enough to see it is conical with enough room for a craft to fly into and be concealed.Crater Shorty is my favorite because Hoagland says there is crash debris scattered on the floor of it;and it looks like it might on closer inspection.Our last trip to the moon went there.

RUTH NORMAN!

Re:UNARIUS - TEH SCNCE OF MYNDE! (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707323)

Darn it! Where's the "Whoa... far out dude!" moderation option when you need it?

Re:UNARIUS - TEH SCNCE OF MYNDE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40714243)

What if: The moon is a machine -- a lifeboat and "ark." [blogspot.com] It's hollow and "rings like a bell" when struck by space probes. [...] the moon is not supposed to be there -- and yet it makes life possible on earth by providing the ocean tides necessary for plankton survival.

hahaha

if the moon was hollow, how would it be causing the tides

Re:UNARIUS - TEH SCNCE OF MYNDE! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40721075)

With moonbeams, and rainbows!

Re:Prior art? (1)

poly_pusher (1004145) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705505)

Oh no, please don't give anyone that idea. All the people in Hummers are gonna start thinking "Maybe I should upgrade to and Embraer now."

Re:Prior art? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704883)

Right, isn't a lot of this stuff done by figuring out how nature does it and then artificially replicating that process? Like gene therapy via retrovirus, for instance.

Re:Prior art? (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705477)

Right, isn't a lot of this stuff done by figuring out how nature does it and then artificially replicating that process? Like gene therapy via retrovirus, for instance.

You may have a point there, but then the method or process might be patentable not the gene it self.

Re:Prior art? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706109)

Putting a human gene in a retrovirus creates a new possibly patentable invention even if the gene and the original retrovirus are not patentable. But you should have to demonstrate utility. If there's no demonstrated utility the patent should be barred.

Everything that is patentened in biotech... (2)

acidfast7 (551610) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704155)

... can easily be worked around regardless of what Myriad Genetics and Optimal Medicine tell you. Also, location plays a huge, huge role.

Re:Everything that is patentened in biotech... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40714903)

Shit, my stock just dropped a bit - don't let the secret out!

So just patent the test... (1)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704179)

Ok, I'm sure I'm missing something here.

But I don't see where a specific test can't be patented to determine if a gene is present, without patenting the gene.

If someone else comes up with a different way to detect that gene, then they wouldn't be in violation of the patent.

Re:So just patent the test... (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704249)

While I agree that DNA sequences shouldn't be patentable, I think they want to protect research dollars that go into discovering which genes do what.

Re:So just patent the test... (3, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705205)

Too bad, it's not an invention, so you can't get a patent on it.

Re:So just patent the test... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Crobar (1143477) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704471)

As I understand the case, the issue is whether genetic material is patentable at all. This is generally referred to as patentable utility or just utility for short. Questions of utility deal exclusivly with whether they fall under the statute. The questions are usually answered with a simple "yes, it is" (e.g. For an improved potato peeler) or "no," (e.g. F=ma) so no prior art would be necessary.

Re:So just patent the test... (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704503)

The problem is that the general steps are easily duplicated, once someone has determined that a disease or risk is correlated with a gene it's pretty easy for to make a test that takes advantage of that information. So you either need to patent gene sequencing in the general case, which is a genie that is already well out of the bottle thankfully, or you need to be able to patent using that gene to predict an outcome. It is the test that is being patented, or at least the correlation. The problem is twofold: one, the patent hampers other research groups looking into the gene and two, the patents just plain last too long. I don't see any problem with giving them an exclusive license to sell a test for a correlation they discovered so long as they are not allowed to prevent third party research and their monopoly lasts a reasonable amount of time (5 years after the test is FDA approved or 10 years after the patent is filed seems more reasonable than the current numbers to me).

Re:So just patent the test... (1)

surd1618 (1878068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705011)

So, basically, a compromise, where these kinds of patents expire quite quickly. I like this idea. Still, the most powerful organizations will *make* ways to keep their patents longer, requiring further legislation. Still, advancing the game seems like a sound venture to me.

Re:So just patent the test... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707061)

No, no compromise. The premise in the post that says that lack of patent coverage will stifle growth is just BS. Gene therapies are causing a revolution in human and animal patient care. Giving exclusive use and royalty potential is a failed model for genetics. Many patents are dubious to begin with, and the proof of prior art is almost impossible to know. Better to use this as a model for the failure of patents, rather than to some how once again rape the process.

Re:So just patent the test... (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 2 years ago | (#40857169)

It would seem that correlations should not be patented at all. So you spent a lot of time finding it out, so what. I understand as a business you would want to have the rights to a monopoly on your idea. You can patent the test you make with the materials that make up the test, that should be good enough.

The idiocy of patenting a gene or gene sequence or a mutation that you create (which would happen and probably has in nature already) seems like protecting your looks, if someone is born with very similar looks, you force them to change their face, because you filed first (not invented first as I think the laws have changed).

Patent the test and be done with it, that's OK, with reasonably short time for exclusive profits. We need to foster innovation in this fast paced world, not slow the pace down by decades.

Although innovation in another was is fostered by people having to look into different areas to work around those roadblocks to profits, not unlike the continuing onslaught of people trying to break security of systems, fixes, more breaks, fixes...

Re:So just patent the test... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704655)

Myriad also has patent claims directed to the test, and these claims have also been challenged in this case. These claims boil down to: sequence the patient's BRCA I or II gene, and compare to the 'normal' sequence. Myriad cannot claim the actual method of sequencing DNA as they did not invent that. So they claim the test, which according to recent holdings (including the vacated Federal Circuit holding in this case) is simply claiming a law of nature--that certain mutations correlate with certain diseases. These claims are unlikely to hold up on the second go-round. Myriad will then have to rely on their ability to exclude others from using the isolated gene at all (or any 15 basepair or more part of it--yes they claimed not the gene but any 15 basepairs corresponding to the gene). If Myriad loses the ability to claim the isolated gene itself, they have little else to fall back on.

Note however, that Myriad's patents at issue will expire in just a few years anyway. The real implications are for the industry as a whole and how the industry will operate in the future.

Re:So just patent the test... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704699)

Sorry, in the above, I meant to say that "they claimed not JUST the gene but any 15 basepairs corresponding to the gene".

And you though the RIAA was bad... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704215)

1. Gene finds it way into a bacteria.
2. Bateria reproduces itself several million times on that food in the back of your fridge.
3. Airport swapping finds Myriad Genetics IP on your things.
4. Your sued for owning several million illegal copies of thier IP.

Re:And you though the RIAA was bad... (2, Informative)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704539)

That's not even a new case, Monsanto has already sued farmers whose crops were "infected" with their Roundup-resistant gene via natural cross pollination...

Re:And you though the RIAA was bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707217)

One problem with that: it doesn't happen. Some people took Monsanto to court over it a while back. they couldn't produce any evidence that what you describe actually happens, and the suit was dismissed. [reuters.com] They do sue farmers who knowingly save and replant transgenic seed that they developed, yes, but that's a far cry from suing over unintentional cross pollination as is so often claimed.

Re:And you though the RIAA was bad... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707529)

One problem with that: it doesn't happen. Some people took Monsanto to court over it a while back. they couldn't produce any evidence that what you describe actually happens, and the suit was dismissed. [reuters.com] They do sue farmers who knowingly save and replant transgenic seed that they developed, yes, but that's a far cry from suing over unintentional cross pollination as is so often claimed.

It shouldn't matter if growing new crops was intentional or unintentional. If a farmer's crops are contaminated with the Roundup-ready gene through pollination and they intentionally save the seeds, who cares? It's like your neighbor's champion pedigree dog climbing your fence and screwing your dog and then trying to sue you for realizing the puppies may be valuable.

Re:And you though the RIAA was bad... (2, Informative)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704765)

Monsanto is doing this with crops already. If their gene contaminates your crop through natural means (wind pollination, direct seed drift, bees etc. You are on the hook. They can take control of the entire crop including the uncontaminated parts of your crop and the vigorously litigate these scenarios.

Re:And you though the RIAA was bad... (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705293)

I've read about this too and it makes me literally angry with rage.

Here's an equivalent scenario:
Your neighbor backs a truck up to your fence, and tosses fertilizer all over your own garden 10 feet away from the fence. He goes to the city and says that you have his fertilizer all over your yard, and he wants all your crops now. The city says: that sounds fair, and grants him all rights to your garden's crops, plus the city then fines you the cost of his fertilizer.

Re:And you though the RIAA was bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706957)

I've read about this too and it makes me literally angry with rage.

Before getting angry you should make sure it is actually happening. Monsanto has sued farmers, yes (to the tune of about 12 per year IIRC out of there thousands and thousands of customers), but in every case that they have pressed charges it was found that the farmer either A) violated the contract they signed or B) knowingly selected for the transgene and sowed those seeds. I've read over the cases, like the Schmeiser case, the Rinehart case, the Parr case, ect....the whole 'Monsanto sues you for cross pollination' thing never happened. Its a myth fabricated by people with an ax to grind and propagated by journalists looking for a nice sensationalist story or who are just too lazy to fact check.

A better analogy would be if you ran a movie theater and someone dropped off a DVD of a move you didn't buy the rights to show at your theater. You figure that the producers should keep better control of what people do with their DVDs and start showing it. You get sued for it. I suppose you could argue that people should be allowed to just reproduce patented or copyrighted things as they please, but lets not pretend that the lawsuits are accidental.

Re:And you though the RIAA was bad... (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708485)

but in every case that they have pressed charges it was found that the farmer either A) violated the contract they signed

This is another insidious piece of rot. Companies are constantly overclaiming the actual privileges that copyright/trademark/patent law extends them and use contract law as a way to extend "rights" to their liking. Sure, no-one has to sign the contract, but then it is becoming increasingly difficult to source things without signing an overreaching contract. In Monsanto's case they are using contract law to control use of the patented item in precisely manner it is designed to function: seed germinates, grows, produces more viable seed.

Re:And you though the RIAA was bad... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40721713)

Knowingly selected transgene seeds that were "born" from their own crops. It'd be like letting your dog run wild, and if someone kept the best from the litter, suing them. The ones sued for "keeping" what they found on their land may have selected from the "best" but it was on their land in the first place.

A better analogy would be if you ran a movie theater and someone dropped off a DVD of a move you didn't buy the rights to show at your theater.

No, it would be more like:

You run a rental store. A person with a contract with Paramount rents one of your movies, then replaces the DVD with the director's cut, and puts it back in the case. You see that many directors cuts are appearing in your DVD cases, matching the movies you have rented out. You then, noticing this, start a "Director's cut" section of the store. Paramount then sues you for knowingly using DVDs that you selected for. If you are going to make an analogy, there's no need to needlessly lie to make it worse. At least pretend intellectual honesty (I know, asking too much for an AC).

A patent wear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704237)

Patents on Jeans? Oh man! Now I have to go around naked.

Re:A patent wear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704463)

Please put your skirt back on, Mom.

There is a solution (5, Interesting)

davidannis (939047) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704247)

The solution is not to allow my genes to be patented but to have the government fund basic research on what genes do and let the private sector slug it out. Many companies can then produce tests that are cheaper, faster, and better. That way they would compete on price and quality, not on being first to gain a monopoly position. We have lots of public infrastructure, like roads, that companies like UPS and FedEx share. It keeps costs low. Imagine if UPS could get exclusive access to Interstate 80 while FedEx got I-75. Not an efficient system if your goal is serving society even it FedEx and UPS funded their individual highways.

Re:There is a solution (1)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40709799)

This is a very good idea. The only problem with them is their purpose. From "if your goal is serving society," the purpose of those that try to patent genes is not to "serve society" but to "make money of society" instead. I think the original purpose of patent is good, but it is now changed and is being exploited more and more because some people see (or create) loop holes in the system.

Patents; just say no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704291)

Patents are fundementally crap, regardless of what industry is using them. The argument is they need to protect their RND - well they do that with Licencing agreements and first to market trade-secrets.

Could cause fragmentation (1)

Tokah (859694) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704321)

Although I think it's necessary to make genes and their functions incapable of being patented, the current system does have one advantage that we will have to seek to duplicate: centralization. If you have a rare genetic disease, as I do, you currently get the test from exactly one company. Your results come back complete with comparison to everyone who has ever had reason and opportunity to get tested for mutations to that gene. This is very helpful prognostically.

No (5, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704349)

Genes themselves should not be patentable. Make a different sequence synthetically, yes. Come up with a new way to sequence it, yes. Find a way to fix it if it's defective, yes. But the gene itself? No.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704431)

+1, this is the answer. Have an internet cookie. You shouldn't be able to sue someone for having human DNA. You would actually need a reason.

No viral patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704707)

I'd go a step farther and say that nothing should be patented which can "infect" someone else's possessions and thereby change that possession's ownership. For example, Monsanto and their piracy through cross pollenation.

Re:No viral patents (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705007)

I'd go a step farther and say that nothing should be patented which can "infect" someone else's possessions and thereby change that possession's ownership. For example, Monsanto and their piracy through cross pollenation.

Seconded.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706141)

Absolutely. What happens if I develop a mutation that is already patented? it's been proven that our genetic structure is malleable and does indeed change as we age. Not to mention the natural mutations that occur during the conception of a child.
Is my flesh then owned by some megacorp? Is part of my childrens' bodies owned then?

They say you can't patent genes or anything else directly, simply it's expression. But I am damned if I see a difference.

It makes sense to patent methods but not things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704355)

It makes total since to parent methods of finding genes, or traits, but not the genes. They existed already. That's like patenting a diamond then suddenly you lay claim to all diamonds and anyone who owns one or uses one has to pay you.

Pirating Gene's (1)

xpatch (1188047) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704413)

hmmm maybe we can torrent pirate genetics to 3d printers that create gene therapy pills at low cost... It's to bad greeks didn't patent the Pythagoras theory or all the other stuff they gave to the world. they might not be in such bad financial state.

Not an Invention (4, Insightful)

fmachado (89905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704445)

Why would we accept a monopoly on some natural thing just because someone spent some money on something?

Patents should never be allowed to genes, even if someone spent the whole stock of money of the plant.

Just to begin, it's not an INVENTION, so a patent should not be allowed at all.

I'm not against all patents, but patents on genes, software and business process are ridiculous. This demonstration of greed without limits should not be rewarded.

Flavio

Re:Not an Invention (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706477)

At least, unlike sofware and business process, a lot of money is invested in research to know what gene does what and that knowledge has actual value for the society. Unfortunately, once it is known, there is no competitive advantage to have found it: anybody can produce test or other stuff based on it.

If you want such fundamental research to happen you either need to give the private company that does it some way to recover the cost (like patents) or you fund it. Government funding is not as popular nowadays as it was 50 years ago and other mechanisms than patent are even worse (government license, custom regulations, ...)

Re:Not an Invention (1)

Grond (15515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707355)

"Invention" means "invention or discovery." 35 USC 100(a) [cornell.edu] . Further, the Constitution's Patent and Copyright Clause [wikipedia.org] refers to "discoveries," not "inventions."

Anyway, gene patents do not cover "a gene." They cover an isolated, purified DNA sequence, which does not occur in nature. It's no different from patenting an isolated, purified drug naturally found in a non-isolated, impure state in a plant.

There's no "On the other" (2)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704469)

Just scrap the "On the other" [companies like Myriad Genetics and Optimal Medicine use the patents to protect years of work invested in research] ... No one cares about that. That goes under the "ordinary risk of doing business". Built on sand. Investors/speculators didn't have, or ignored, complete picture of the situation.

Re:There's no "On the other" (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705367)

Exactly, Fair is fair. The government doesn't give you a monopoly on the street corner because you were fired from your job. Why should the government give any company a monopoly on an idea just because they spent a lot of money developing it? If conservatives are so damn red in the face about socialism and the welfare state, start with all the goddamn companies that profit off of government granted monopolies on shit that's obvious to people skilled in the art, or already developed by nature, or already has prior art.

Corporate welfare is far more pernicious and expensive to the people of the US than any human entitlement program. Quit letting the government make welfare queens out of big business!

Re:There's no "On the other" (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707643)

"Exactly, Fair is fair. The government doesn't give you a monopoly on the street corner because you were fired from your job. Why should the government give any company a monopoly on an idea just because they spent a lot of money developing it?"

Strawman. If you look at the patent law (or the daily practice of the patent office), you'll see that having spent a lot of money is not a factor at all. It has to be New (doesn't matter where in the world it was publicly known to destroy a patent), and it has to be non-obvious.

People/companies applying for a patent PAY for SHARING a detailed description of their invention with the world without certainty that they'll get something (a patent) in return. The patent application gets published after 18 months (before grant).

Bert

Retribution (1, Flamebait)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704473)

If well those companies could deserve some recognition or retribution for their effort and investment, they should not own that knowledge, and/or somewhat forbid or put obstacles (including economic ones) to others to keep building from that point. Some patents in medicine, or drugs could be actually killing people for not having available those products because their patent enforcement, and i don't see any patent holder going to jail for mass murder.

Constitutional Amendment if Necessary (2)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704553)

This is serious stuff. Patenting life needs to be outside the law. This is worthy of a constitutional amendment.

Re:Constitutional Amendment if Necessary (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704937)

Leave the USA Constitution alone or politicians will take our rights to guns, booze, and balls.

Just change the corporate-welfare WIPO/patent laws, so they will support (at the speed of technology or light) innovation.

Re:Constitutional Amendment if Necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707329)

Just change the corporate-welfare WIPO/patent laws, so they will support (at the speed of technology or light) innovation.

Are you sure patents on life are bad for innovation? [blogspot.com]

IMO living things should definitely be up for patents (for things developed anyway, not for naturally occurring anything). Something that is hard to develop, easy to reproduce, and benefits society should be the first things to deserve patents, and those who work in these sorts of fieelds have been pushing for it since the days of Luther Burbank (he's no one important, only one of the greatest plant breeders who ever lived who bred the potatoes you still eat nearly a century ago and an early proponent of what became The Plant Patent Act of 1930).

Re:Constitutional Amendment if Necessary (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705235)

Eh, we just need a court to overturn Diamond v. Chakrabarty and say that living things cannot be patentable subject matter.

Bloomberg's article is rather lacking..... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704569)

The Bloomberg article cited in the summary is rather one-sided in its treatment of the subject. While speaking extensively to the potential damage that invalidation of human gene patents (at least for 'isolated' DNA) may do to the industry, it does not mention the potential benefits, which include opening space for start-ups and other small business to perform research and create products which they currently cannot due to patents on human genes. Invalidation of human gene patents would, of course, not be terribly beneficial to the current big players who now tend to simply cross-license their patents and thus block new competition.

Also, the article fails to explore properly WHY there is an argument over whether human genes should be patentable subject matter. The Supreme Court has held for many decades that products of nature are not patentable subject matter--so you cannot find a new mineral in a mine and get a patent on it. The Federal Circuit (the appeals court which handles patent appeals matters) has consistently held that isolated human genes, even when the sequence is exactly that of a normal human gene's coding region, are products of human ingenuity and not products of nature as the genes have been isolated from the gene's normal context--that of the chromosome. Many research scientists find this a specious argument, as isolation of a gene is a routine practice in the field. A recent Supreme Court holding (Mayo v. Prometheus) suggested that, for some patent claims at least, a law of nature or product of nature is not transformed into a product of man by some routine or common activity. So this argument will boil down to whether isolation of a human gene and placement of that gene into a plasmid (for copying, manipulation, expression, etc.) is enough to convert a product of nature into something made by the hand of man.

I claim prior art ... let me light these candles (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704585)

I claim prior art.

Now, let me light these candles, put on some Barry White, and turn the lights down low and I'll show you what I mean.

You're looking lovely tonight, you know.

No (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704667)

"restricting access to whole regions of the human genome will stifle scientific progress."

Not in the slightest. Eliminating patents on genes, software and most other things would greatly enhance scientific progress. Patents are dampening both science and commerce.

Troll Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704785)

I like how the summary implies that there are two sides (pro and con) but gives two con arguments.

Nature has been patented ... (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704891)

Nature has been patented ... by the gods and all that is truly holy in the whole gaul-dang universe.

Business is business. A bad/failed business model using patent trolling with the gods, or relying on patents being applicable to nature, the obvious, theoretical math and science for profit/income/tax/fees .... Fools not patents put themselves out of business, TFB4U.

Business should only be able to patent products derived from applied math and science. Patents should be, limited to 10 years, always "Open" for public and private use, modification, innovation, distribution ...; However, within the initial 10 (maybe 5) years any personally derived/added value (benefits/profit/income...) should be distributed among contributors by binding arbitration, and not taxed as personal or corporate income while obtained during the time-cap of the patent. Well, IMO, it sounds fair to US, EU ....

Bioshock! Got a few billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704903)

To move to my underwater facility, where gene-therapy is as plentiful as vending machines?

If they don't allow gene patents, the companies that stand to lose billions will *KILL* to keep the trade secrets, secret!

Evidence that patent system has gone too far? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40704935)

I think this whole discussion is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Would someone with the right amount of influence please move to overhaul and replace this broken, outdated system with something that makes more sense in the modern era?

MC nailed it a long time ago... (2)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 2 years ago | (#40704971)

From a speech [whoownsyourbody.org] by Michael Crichton to congressional aides in 2006:

"Gene patents might have looked reasonable 20 years ago, but the field has changed since in ways nobody could have predicted. And we have plenty of evidence today that gene patents are bad practice, harmful, and dangerous. Gene patenting breaks all sorts of long-standing rules about what is protectable, and it does so with no countervailing benefit. "

I highly recommend reading the rest of his speech, as well as his novel on this very topic, called Next [wikipedia.org] . For a fiction writer, he was a pretty smart cookie. Must have been the MD he earned from Harvard, or maybe the BA in biological anthropology, also from Harvard. I especially like how he includes bibliographical references in most of his novels, so people can read for themselves the articles that inspire his novels.

Rest in peace, sir, and know that you are mourned.

end all patents (1)

reversible physicist (799350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705457)

Genetic patents are the ultimate software patents, since our genetic code is the program for building us. And these days there is no sharp distinction between software and hardware, since there is so much software that replaces what used to be done with hardware (electronic ignition, calculator, programmable gate arrays, firmware). So I think the real problem is the idea of a patent, period. In this technological age, it's unnecessary to award monopolies to encourage innovation, and secrets don't last long. The whole patent system should simply be shut down: no new patents, and twenty years from now it will be gone.

This should alo apply.. (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#40705053)

...to GMO stuff like what Monsonto and Cargill spew forrh.

Licensing fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40705539)

What will I have to pay in licensing fees in order to manufacture the genes covered by these patents? Will these licensing only be charged when I actually make a baby, or does all intercourse count, even if it doesn't result in pregnancy ("making available")? What about cell division within my own body? Do I have to pay each time that gene is duplicated in my own body? What about transcription?

Understanding the implications of this gene patenting stuff makes my head hurt more than trying to understand the implications of time travel.

Patent monopoly granted for useful information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40705829)

Patents should only be granted when you need to explain how to do something. Emphasis on the words need and how. If somebody experienced in the field, once understanding what you are trying to accomplish, can figure out how to do it, it should not be patent-able. You get the monopoly for helping others figure something out they couldn't without your help in exchange for the information. It should not be used as a cash cow for doing nothing else, to protect failed/broken implementations or to protect other bad tech investments. Genes should not be patent-able because they uncontrolled, self-replicating systems. It is not possible to differentiate between intentional violation of the patent and nominal biological replication. More commonly, how can you tell the difference between somebody stealing your genetically modified seed vs. the genetically modified seed blowing on to their yard and replicating?

I own the rights!!! (1)

CHIT2ME (2667601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706287)

I own all rights to my genes. Any company, corporation, etc., trying to profit from my genetic material owe me big bucks!!!

For those who oppose patents on genes (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707679)

Would you be so kind and help humanity and post the gene sequence(s) we have to look for to make a diagnostic test for Alzheimer? After all, it is in nature isn't it? And this knowledge could help a lot of people, very well possible even you.

Thanks on behalf of humanity.

Bert
PS For those that don't know that: The gene in its "natural habitat" isn't covered by a patent. It is only covered in isolated form or in a non-natural habitat (e.g. a human gene introduced into a plasmid).

life mimmicking art (1)

davydagger (2566757) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707925)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescent_Black_%28comics%29

dystopia is now

Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708049)

If you first pump a lot of money into a project, without checking the ROI (in this case: can I patent it) that's just bad business practice...

I applaud there effort to do this kind research, but don't complain !

I don't believe it!! (1)

mcnazar (1231382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40709535)

It beggars belief that a company would take out a patent on a diagnosis mechanism that could save lives.

Are patents worth more that a person's life?

Re:I don't believe it!! (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | more than 2 years ago | (#40709601)

The theory is that investors will be more willing to invest in a company trying to find such a diagnosis if there is a better chance of the company finding it making a profit. That would lead to more resources being spent finding diagnosis mechanisms, which would lead to more being invented/discovered. If you have a better idea of how ensure investments in medicine, feel free to share. I like this idea [slate.com] , even though it builds heavily on the existing patent system, to the degree where it doesn't eliminate all monopoly protection.

Technological advancement (1)

redalertbulb (1321747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40709879)

With technology moving on as it does, patenting single genes for use in targeted tests will soon become pointless. In a few years (it is happening already), exome sequencing, followed by variant confirmation via Sanger sequencing (directly sequencing the gene, not using a patented kit) will be the normal way to do diagnostics. Nobody will be paying for a single (or even multi) gene testing kit.

Now, if companies decide to try and patent entire exomes (or genomes), things may turn nasty.

My 2 cents (or pennies, where I hail from).

I am not patentable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40711871)

The only people that should have the right to patent me or a part of me are my parents. They invented me and I am unique.

Research (1)

giminy (94188) | more than 2 years ago | (#40712055)

Every time I see the gene patent debate now, I think about how my wife spent five years of 60 hour weeks (grad school, she just got her PhD) discovering that some genes from Castor Beans have no effect on the lipids that they produce.

Gene patents get us all backed up in a corner mostly because of the medical tests that can save lives. What people fail to consider is that gene research is not very well-understood yet. Individual researchers fumble around for decades before they get results worth sharing, if ever.

Last time this debate came around, I pointed to Myriad Genetic's financials. They constantly lose money, and rely upon investors to keep them afloat. The research that they do is extremely expensive. They're not some greedy corporation making money hand-over-fist. (My wife, btw, is highly likely to carry the BRCA1 gene that Myriad holds a patent on...three women in her family have been tested and all have it...but until recently we haven't had the financial security to consider getting her tested for it).

I guess my point in all of this is that if gene patents go away, expect genetic research to come to a grinding halt, at least in the private sector. Currently, the private sector is where most of the research is happening. There is some funding by NIH and DoA, but it's on the decline since some kind of financial crisis hit the US.

Since slashdot loves carrying a debate into another field: Imagine if, say, electronic patents were ruled invalid? I mean, electrical doodads are just really following the laws of physics, and processors and logic gates are following the rules of logic. These are concepts that are at their most fundamental mathematics. What would happen to the computer industry if such patents were ruled invalid?

Apple already won the jean-patent war... (1)

TheGreatMcCluck (1910928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40716935)

slide-to-lock is just a software zipper... my pants had zippers years ago, but Apple still won their slide-to-lock battle... Why all the debate? This one is over...

Re:Apple already won the jean-patent war... (1)

TheGreatMcCluck (1910928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40716985)

err... slide-to-UNLOCK

policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40734405)

This is a landmark case whose real importance revolves around policy, rather than hard science. In my opinion, any decision as to whether to permit gene patents [generalpatent.com] can only be satisfactorily resolved by considering their effects on society at large.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?