Gene patent joke

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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby sing09 » May 17 2010 8:31 pm

Well, if patenting sequences were not allowed at all, none of that would have happened, would it? It wouldn't have mattered if the company took the picture or not. In fact, they would not have cared about taking a picture. Please help me see what I do not see.
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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby relaxin » May 18 2010 8:40 am

In this case, the poor professor did not believe in patenting. But the company got the partial amino acid sequence by taking a picture of the slide shown in a meeting and finished the entire sequence by cDNA cloning. That is stealing of someone's unpublished work, and get profit from it. Patent is not the issue here. One professor will not be able to fight with a big company.

But in general, if patenting is not allowed, no one will publish or show potentially profitable discovery. That is harmful to future research.
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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby sing09 » May 19 2010 2:09 am

I thought we were discussing the patent issue and not the crookedness of some company's behavior. I hadn't realized we had changed topics within the same thread, sorry. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to add that thievery has been part of human society probably since the beginning of its existence. The point I was trying to make is that perhaps if patenting genes were not allowed, a thief would not feel as compelled to steal a sequence, since there would be no immediate profiting from it. It seems to me patenting genes makes stealing very appealing to the thieves. But, as we know, there is still a risk of having one's work stolen, regardless of patents existing or not, and that's why scientists are careful with what they present in conferences. A thief could be a company or, sadly, another scientist. What protects the scientist, what gives the scientist recognition, is the publication of his/her work. And by publishing his work, he is making information available to everyone who wishes to do research with it. Science is really about sharing knowledge so that it can progress. At least, that's the science I believe in.

Best,

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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby relaxin » May 19 2010 8:31 am

sing09 wrote: The point I was trying to make is that perhaps if patenting genes were not allowed, a thief would not feel as compelled to steal a sequence, since there would be no immediate profiting from it. It seems to me patenting genes makes stealing very appealing to the thieves.


I do not buy this argument. If there is no patent, companies will just go to published literature and make use of the sequence for profit without paying the inventor a single dime. Yes, they do not steal, because they do not have to, since the sequence is in public domain. Patent protects the inventor. Some people may be satisfied for the fame (or pure scientific recognition), others may like monetary reward for their hard work. The desire for money is not a bad thing. The scientist can use it for his/her own research (getting extramural funding is not easy nowadays) or donate the money to research foundation.

The whole point of argument is that if patent is not allowed, only companies will be profitted, and that is not right for the inventor. I do not advocate patenting the sequences of, say, all miRNA in a cell, even if their functions are not known. I only favour patenting a unique sequence that has a potential of developing into a commercial product.
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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby sing09 » May 19 2010 6:59 pm

Are you saying that discovering sequences is inventing them? What are you calling an "inventor"? Other participants of this forum had already clarified the definition for "inventor." I do agree that one should patent an invention, but patenting something that already exists for discovering it? Wow, imagine if we had done that with everything existing discovered so far! Imagine if Watson and Crick had patented DNA (perhaps Rosalind Franklin should have patented it! :wink: ). It seems you have changed the definition of "inventor," and since we cannot agree on the basics of this discussion, it kills the purpose to go on. I really enjoy a heated and interesting discussion, but I guess I'll withdraw myself for now like others here. Back to work...

Cheers,

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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby relaxin » May 20 2010 8:31 am

In the scope of our discussion, an inventor is someone who discovered a certain sequence in a gene, say a SNP or a mutation, can be linked to a disease, and can be used in diagnosis of a disease. You cannot say that the mutation exists naturally, and therefore one cannot patent it. One thing I know is that one cannot patent something that is already published. So most people will hide the sequence information until they file the patent.

I am a co-inventor on a patent of a gene sequence. In the patent application, we are called "artisans", not "inventors". :lol:
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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby sing09 » May 24 2010 2:36 am

It's all clear now, but I stand on my original position. :roll:
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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby relaxin » May 24 2010 8:42 am

Me too!! I will open a company, develop my "discovery" into a product and sell it. Since the sequence is not patentable, I will hide my sequence as "trade secret". Do not worry, I will plow all profit back into research and development (I do not want to pay tax either). :lol:
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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby Suzanne » Jun 01 2010 8:15 pm

The Editors of Biotechniques wrote an article in the May issue called "The Future of Gene Patents". I thought the people following this discussion might be interested in it.

http://www.biotechniques.com/Biotechniq ... 73538.html

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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby sing09 » Jun 01 2010 8:38 pm

Thank you, Suzanne. This article was very well written and it couldn't be clearer. This is exactly what I have been trying to say in this space. I stand by it 100%!
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Re: Gene patent joke

Postby jfleblanc » Jul 30 2010 3:25 pm

Hi,

I would like to comment and clarify certain issues posted by relaxin and sing09 regarding the EPO researcher who got ripped off by an unscrupulous company. Patent laws in the US are such that the "first-to-invent" can claim priority. Therefore, it would not have been too much of a legal burden for the scientist to challenge the validity of the patent by demonstrating with his lab notebooks that he was the first to invent. Alternatively, he could have used his strength position to his advantage by negotiating an agreement with the company for some sort of compensation through the payment of royalties. In short, he had a couple of options to defend his rights.

Note that in Europe, patent laws differ from the US, in that the "first-to-file" can claim priority. However, any public disclosure (published paper, talk or poster presented at a conference, etc.) of the invention invalidates the right to subsequently file an application for patent in Europe (regarding the latter point, US patent laws grant the inventor a maximum of one year after the first public disclosure of the invention to file a patent application).

Regarding the issue of gene patenting, I think that the latest rulings from various courts aim towards the requirement for the inventor to demonstrate some utility and /or some transformation of the "natural" molecule (in ths case, DNA) in order to claim a patent involving a nucleic acid sequence. In my opinion, these rulings make sense. With regards to the broader "patenting" debate, indeed the patent system is there to protect the inventor. Once a potential invention that has not been filed for patent is in the public domain, of course a company could see the commercial value and make it into products and profits. However, several companies could jump into the badwagon, which could foster competition and perhaps affordable pricing. In such a scenario, the inventor would obviously not get anything back.

Thanks for contributing to this discussion,
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