Genetics, patents, careers

Manuel Simon ma at
Fri Jun 10 14:28:00 EST 1994

In article <2t7frf$gc5 at> bchs1b at Elroy.UH.EDU (Michael Benedik) writes:
>From: bchs1b at Elroy.UH.EDU (Michael Benedik)
>Subject: Re: Genetics, patents, careers
>Date: 9 Jun 1994 16:26:23 GMT

>Obviously the days of just cloning and sequencing genes will soon be over
>(when genomes are sequenced) and then everyone can get back to doing
>real experiments where we learn about how, what these genes do and
>how organisms, cells, development etc work. 

>I think the patents are going to be irrelevent, at least to academics. If
>you remember, the entire technique of gene cloning was patented, well that
>certainly hasn't stopped most of us from doing it. Many expression vectors
>including the Tac promoter have been patented (and I assume many others)
>but that hasn't stopped us from using them. So don't get hung up
>on patents. They just won't matter to most of us.

High Michael 

It should be taken into account that the strategy to protect certain 
developments by a patent are originated by several ideas:

- Persons (e.g. a company or research institutes) having invested lots of 
resources into the development of a product should receive protection for 
this product FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME. Once this time is elapsed the 
product should be free for the community (therefore prolongued patents are 
against this logic, despite the fact that the patent will be exorbitant more 
expensive). The time should be a) definitly limited and b) a mechanism for 
shortening this period of time should be available for patents covering 
products or procedures of highest interest in order to reduce the artificially 
high price of the product (e.g. a vaccine against something of a vital danger 
to the community). 

- The second thing one should take into consideration is that in this logic 
only inventions could get a patent protection! The discovery of a gene or a 
promoter element without a SUBSTANTIAL ALTERATION leading to specific product 
properties should be excluded by the national or international patent 

- Patents should be given for procedures only if they do not include common 
strategies or method. Again, depending on the importance to the community the 
time a patent could be established should be limited. (both is sort of 
unclear in particular for PCR techniques, where a patent was recently sold 
and will be prolonged)

- And what is executed already: patents cover ONLY commercial development. 
Non-profit institutions should be allowed to use e.g. procedures and products 
covered by patents.

Manuel SIMON, PhD

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