Patenting natureBy http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // April 15, 2013 in Patents
I loved the Nina Totenberg picee on NPR this morning, about the case before the Supreme Court that presents the question, can a drug company patent a human gene it has isolated for a given purpose?
It's a complicated story (kudos to Totenburg and NPR for making it understandable), but it replicates (pun intended) the archetypal American creative tension, between open scientific inquiry and private commercial drive. There probably is not a wrong answer to the question before the court, just a policy choice that will, for a moment, tip the balance one way or another, to be adjusted soon enough in another context.
Totenberg ends her piece with a helpful editorial aside, to the effect that, in Europe, the way this case would be resolved would be to say yes to the drug company looking to lock down a patent, but then weaken the scope of patent rights to make a variety of express exemptions for research and for diagnostic tools.
Not how we do things in America. Soccer games can end in a tie but baseball games are played until the Second Coming, if necessary.