Judge rules patents on human genes invalid

A company’s patents on 2 human genes have been ruled invalid by a judge in New York:

A New York City judge has invalidated a company’s patents on two genes linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

The ruling Monday by federal Judge Robert Sweet challenging whether anyone can hold patents on human genes was expected to have broad implications for the biotechnology industry and genetics-based medical research.

I’m not a lawyer, folks, and I’ve never claimed to be. I just have a basic problem with the notion that someone can file a piece of paper claiming credit for something they did not create. You might as well file a patent on a newly-discovered species of bird. Or on brown eyes. All of these patents that have been allowed on such basic things as swinging on a swing (no, I am not kidding) and on discovered characteristics of creature, such as the aforementioned gene patents are just not what patents were supposed to be. If you produced a particular kind of swing, then you can patent that. But to patent the act of swinging? On anything? Something that man’s been doing since before he had the power of language required to actually articulate a patent? Ridiculous.

The same goes for patenting a gene that humans, by their nature, possess. The lab didn’t make anything, here, they just identified something that was already there. Now, if they make a process of detecting that gene or of assessing that gene’s participation with other genes to produce a disposition toward cancer, then they should certainly patent that process or gear. But to patent the gene itself? No. Too much.

I understand that companies are looking to recoup their costs involved in research and I think that’s fine, to a point. But this is no more valid than someone trying to copyright the letter “t” or a middle-C note in music. The patent should never have been allowed and there’s a real need for reform at the US Patent and Trade Office if stuff like this is getting out of there with the seal of approval.

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