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Judge strikes down gene patents

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posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 07:49 AM
This is unexpectedly good news. I have been watching with increasing concern how things that occur naturally are being patented. Apart from Human DNA, I am also thinking of companies like Monsanto that are genetically modifying seeds and patenting the results.

In a ruling with potentially far-reaching implications for the patenting of human genes, a judge struck down a company’s patents on two genes linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

The decision by US District Judge Robert Sweet challenging whether anyone can hold patents on human genes was expected to have broad implications for the biotechnology industry and genetics-based medical research.

Link to Source

I find the idea frightening that biotech companies can essentially own the human body. For example, they isolate and patent the gene sequence that causes green eyes. The hypothetical implication of this is that they own the rights to every human that has green eyes.
Not likely to happen? Perhaps. Let's not take the chance - this is what the ACLU has to say:

On May 12, 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (PUBPAT) filed a lawsuit charging that patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer are unconstitutional and invalid.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted thousands of patents on human genetic sequences.
While the purpose of the patent system is to encourage innovation, increasingly human gene patents appear to be inhibiting biomedical research and interfering with patient care. For example, the Utah-based company Myriad Genetics has patented two genes - BRCA1 and BRCA2 - and certain mutations along these genes that have been associated with an increased risk of certain forms of breast and ovarian cancer.
The high licensing and diagnostic testing fees charged by Myriad have forced some researchers to discontinue research on breast cancer and have prevented women from having access to screening for mutations.
In addition to inhibiting freedom of research, patents on human genes raise troubling questions about the right of patients to access information about themselves and whether parts of human beings should be patentable at all.

(My emphasis in bold)

posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 03:41 AM
Mods, please allow me to bump my own thread as I feel this ruling is important beyond ufo sightings or political party name calling.

This ruling is being interpreted as YOU OWN YOUR DNA.

Here is more:

Gene patenting refers to the grant of patents for identified sequences of human DNA forming part or all of a gene.(14) The gene patenting controversy arises from an international tension between legal and ethical norms in the genetic science context. More specifically, a significant obstacle to gene patenting exists at the threshold inquiry level of patent law. Genes are considered by some to be an object inappropriate for patenting, particularly from an ethical standpoint. Arguably, genes are a common, universal possession, representative of humankind's collective heritage, and thus perhaps not a subject matter for which individual intellectual property rights should be granted. Patents, however, are granted in virtually every other field of research and serve to reward the considerable human effort expended in the invention process. Such effort is not absent from genome research. Thus, an ethical tension underlies the gene patenting controversy.

(My emphaisis in bold)


posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 03:55 PM
All patents are wrong and evil.

They prohibit competition and prevent innovation.

They allow monopolies to form.

Patents are a government sanctioned monopoly.

Companies should be forced to keep their ideas secret if they want to keep a competitive advantage, they should not be allowed to put them into the public arena and then claim a right to a monopoly.

Government is entirely evil and it is government alone that prevents competition in the market place.

posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 06:08 PM
Good for that judge! Oh, and I agree with the previous poster that patents are a horrible thing.

posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 06:20 PM
Patents are not horrible.

Patents on genes, DNA, are a WRETCHED idea. Glad to see the concept being challenged.

posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 06:22 PM
reply to post by mnemeth1

The exact opposite is true. While patents do create monopolies, they do not stifle innovation. If patents did not exist, research and development would often be prohibitively expensive. In a world without patents, the copycat would have a competitive advantage over the original because the copycat would not have to charge more to recover R&D costs.

With regards to your comment that companies should keep their technological innovations secret, this is not always feasible. It is often easy for competitors to reverse engineer a product once it hits the market place. Furthermore, in certain industries like pharmaceuticals, companies are forced to disclose their inventions in order to comply with laws like safety regulations.

posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 06:30 PM
reply to post by deltaalphanovember

If you read the article closely and know a little about patent law, you must realize that the court's decision will not invalidate all so-called gene patents. First, this is a US district court decision. It does not have the same precedential weight as a Federal Circuit decision or Supreme Court decision.

In patent law, one cannot patent naturally occurring things like wild animals or genes of organisms that occur in nature. One can patent naturally occurring things that have been modified like genetically modified organisms. One can also patent methods, processes or tools for purifying or isolating naturally occurring things.

In this case, the inventor tried to patent the gene by itself. This is a not permissible. The patent holder could patent a process for isolating the gene, a process for utilizing the gene, chemicals like RNA tags which could be used in the gene isolation process, and other similar things. This could in effect give the patent holder a patent on the gene because nobody would be able to exploit the gene without infringing on the patent holder's patent.

posted on Apr, 1 2010 @ 03:42 AM
reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint

I do agree with your analysis - although I am not a lawyer of any kind (my parents raised with a minimal set of morals), I understand that this will not end gene patenting.
However, because of this verdict/judgement there is a lot of speculation already about how this may change or be the beginning of the end for gene patenting.

Thank you guys for the input ... glad there are people out there that care about these issues.

posted on Apr, 1 2010 @ 03:47 AM
reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint

Once again, I agree ... if I invented something ... let's say a rubber for a vehicle tyre that allowed it to last 200 000 miles while still providing grip etc. I would want my idea to be patented so that I could make money from my original idea. Why would I not want the rights to my own profitable idea?
However, I cannot patent the Rubber tree just because it (hypothetically) provides raw material for my new process.

[edit on 1/4/2010 by deltaalphanovember]

posted on Apr, 1 2010 @ 03:50 AM
reply to post by mnemeth1

Actually I think people are inherently evil and greedy. Before governments existed humans were still stealing and killing.

Governments are simply the institutions we have legitimised in order to do our killing and stealing for us.

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