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Human Gene Patent Challenged In Australian Court 90

Posted by kdawson
from the if-they-can-patent-leather dept.
dov_0 writes "Following a successful patent challenge in the US, an action is underway in Australia to have patents on two breast cancer genes declared invalid."
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Human Gene Patent Challenged In Australian Court

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  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @10:53AM (#32495948)
    Aren't patents supposed to protect inventions rather than just discoveries of something that exists already? Or are they claiming that they created those breast cancer genes in labs and forcefully injected it in their test subjects?
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @10:54AM (#32495958) Journal
    Look at their stock in the last month [google.com] and then look down at related companies on that page and see how every single company in that industry has suffered stock prices plummeting in the last month. Not saying it's a bad thing or that these patents shouldn't be overturned but it was pretty obvious [slashdot.org]. Just to prepare everyone, you will see a short term drop in research devoted to identifying cancer genes unless it's government backed with your tax dollars.
  • Patents... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @10:55AM (#32495994) Homepage

    Patents are a great idea, but the whole concept has been completely raped. The USPTO awards many patents that have no business being granted, and many applicants try to make their claims as broad as possible.

    "But if we only claim what we invented, we won't make as much money!" The entire purpose is to protect what you invent, fuckwads. Stop stifling innovation by creating a pencil but applying for a patent that attempts to cover any tool used to write.

  • by thms (1339227) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:08AM (#32496162)

    Playing the devils advocate: Patents exist to encourage research which, when completed, could be easily "stolen". If there were no patents, nobody would research something which a competitor could copy without doing any of the work; or everyone would obfuscate their findings if possible.*

    So a company invests millions to find a gene which plays a role in cancer, i.e. it finds the connection and not just patents random junk hoping to score something later - shouldn't this be rewarded or protected somehow? If this is just one step towards a drug, competitors could just jump onto their findings and get a half-free ride.

    * or, of course, the state does all the research and any individual with a smart idea which this big system doesn't support is left to his own devices with no protection from being deprived of his reward. Obviously, middle ground is where the solution is, not that I have any idea where exactly that is.

  • ip law is a failure (Score:4, Interesting)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:17AM (#32496244) Homepage Journal

    the idea that you create a temporary monopoly (which seems to get less temporary every day) in order to encourage the creation of arts and technology has costs which outweigh the supposed benefit. for those who actually create, there are ancillary revenue streams which require no such legal protection

    its time to completely trash ip law. all of it. copyrights, patents: trash it, all of it

  • Patents idea (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @12:08PM (#32497022)

    Idea:

    If patents are created to be able to recoup costs of research/inventing/etc, why not put a profit cap instead AND a limit date?

    Example: I spend $1Million on a 10 year research, I invent X thing, I can hold a patent on said invention for 20 years from patent date, OR for when I turn a net profit of $10Million; thus assuring that I recoup the invested money, and make a profit on it, or if I decide not to mass produce my invention for 20 years (or I cannot sell it) someone else can do it in 20 years.

  • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @12:50PM (#32497818) Homepage

    Many-if-not-most of those private non-profits are funded by government grants. Organizations like the American Cancer Society, direct donations, and similar charitable activities fund the rest, true, but without doing a LOT more research than you have there is no way to determine how much of any individual lab's budget comes from government grants vs. private charitable donations. Having worked for research institutions and having had my wife work for the American Heart Association, I can reasonably guess that the government pays for at least half of the health care research in this country. At least. Of course I'm kinda pulling numbers out of my butt too, and I doubt either of us has the time to really research the matter. At any rate, no the government doesn't *do* much research. It *pays* for research.

  • The main reason these patents were allowed was to help refund the costs of the research into these genes. By forcing researchers, drug companies, ect. to license the use of the gene, it helped the initial team of researchers/parent company recover the money they sunk into finding the gene.

    The implication of this ruling is a loss of profitability via research. Whether this is actually the case or not will be determined by time.

    Yes, but you are looking at the wrong end of the drug pipeline. The ultimate goal of said research is for actual therapies and treatments to be invented, which can then enjoy patent protection. Patenting the gene itself creates a highly restrictive environment where only those with agreements with the patent holder can even consider embarking on the (much more costly and difficult) search for a treatment.

    There are researchers in the community, BTW, that are now legally barred from working on disease treatments for genes they discovered because they felt it was unreasonable to patent and restrict access to it, only to find out that patent troll biotech companies had read their work and successfully patented the same information and are now suing for compensation. So think about before you generalize on the hypothetical research implications of patentability, this is happening now.

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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