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Patenting coords?

Fri Mar 25 11:46:40 EST 1994

Hello all,
	Here's something to chew over.  What do people think about
patenting protein structures?
	Some pros I've heard:
		It'll give universities some clout in dealing with
		drug companies, who might otherwise opt not to enter
		into licensing agreements, waiting instead until
		the PDB hold expires.

		Chemists having been dealing with patents for a long
		time, and it hasn't squelched their research.

	Some cons I've heard:
		It could potentially have a massively chilling effect
		on structure/function research for any given protein
		(remember the PCR/Taq polymerase fiascos).

		Most academically determined structures have been
		funded at least in part by public monies.  Isn't
		it wrong to patent something you figured out on
		the taxpayer's nickel?

		It can't be done, since a structure represents
		a discovery, not an invention (directly relevant
		to the whole NIH/Venter gene fragment business).
		(Of course, legions of lawyers are engaged in
		attempts to circumvent this argument as 
		exercises in self-justification).

	What do YOU think?

Pat Loll
Univ. of Chicago
loll at biovax.uchicago.edu

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