license for TAQ

Bill Alexander alexanderw at
Tue Apr 16 15:28:18 EST 1996

In Article <fn3jpEAP+1cxEwMV at>, "Dr. Duncan Clark"
<duncan at> wrote:
>In article <alexanderw.1179985258B at>, Bill Alexander
><alexanderw at> writes
>>Obvious methods can not be patented.  There STILL IS an exemption for
>>researcher use of patented methods.  
>This exemption is country specific. In the US you have that exemption
>back from the 1st world war. In other countries that exemption doesn't
>apply. Roche are currently (as of in court now) trying to overturn that
>exemption arguing that US academic researchers are engaged in the
>business of research. 

I doubt they will win this.  You also cannot currently patent anything that
is only used for further research (US law).

>If I remember rightly you have to build your
>salaries into your grant apps. You have to be successfull in your
>research and publications or no money. Over here lecturers don't have to
>apply for their own salaries, just money for their research. Salaries
>are only built in for short term posts ie post-docs, research assistants
>etc. You also invariably you patent everything that you discover. I can
>see no difference from how you do your work to how I work and I run a
>biotech. company. On this basis why should I have to pay for a patented
>product and you not? 

I agree here, I am paying the full price for my taq and we only use PE
machines in our lab.  The research exemption doesn't mean that you get any
reagents for free.  You can use patented methods in your research (US) but I
wouldn't try to market any product doing this.

>(Moan switch on) Why do academics always assume
>that biotech companies have money? The only biotech companies you hear
>about are those that do. What about the one, five or ten person
>companies that produce a variety of products that are rebadged by the
>majors. Most will be struggling. (Moan switch off)
>At the end of the day it is a tax on research whether you are an
>academic or not. I don't agree with it but have no choice but to pay. If
>Roche charged less royalty we would all be happier. 16.5 cents per unit
>is high! 

Tell me PCR doesn't save you a lot of TIME.  Would you like everyone to
isolate their own enzymes (in a small company)?  There are also other
methods of amplification.  There is even a web page dedicated to the
"Boomerang" method of amplification, which is patented but has no licensees.

>Finally before people say PCR is no big thing and completely obvious and
>anyone could have invented it - well cloning is no big thing - now! PCR
>is obvious but if an academic had invented it at around the same time as
>Mullis you can be sure that either their University would have made
>every attempt to patent it or they themselves would.

By definition, PCR cannot be obvious or it could not be patented.  It may be
obvious looking back or when you first heard about it but not before it was

> 10 years ago when I
>first started I could write (and did) to umpteen academics requesting a
>restriction enzyme strain clearly stating that it was for commercial use
>and if they had any objection to not send it. I received every strain I
>asked for. How times have changed. Any vector or E.coli from an academic
>for research use is now accompanied by five page license agreement. The
>price of progress. At the end of the day if I get charged I pass it on
>to you and so the cycle goes on leading to ever increasing protection
>and invariably increasing price. Where will it end? 

People will start to use other methods of amplification.  People may
synthesize smaller DNA's chemically.  The PCR patent using thermostable
enzymes will lapse in 8 years (or get overturned ;-).  

>DNAmp Ltd.
Bill Alexander
alexanderw at

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