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30 March 2010 @ 10:09 am
Film at 11: Your Genes Are Your Own  

Federal Judge Rules Against Patents On Human Genes

Your Obedient Serpent applauds this rare triumph of common sense over corporate interests. Patenting a naturally-occurring human genetic sequence is like patenting the gall bladder or the pancreas.

I could also frame an argument based on the Thirteenth Amendment: if someone else claims legal authority over part of your body, and asserts that only they can profit from it, that strikes me as a form of "involuntary servitude".

This might be a convoluted logic, but no more so than the arguments in favor of human gene patents.

Note that the peculiar nature of the patent claim asserts the sole rights to create tests for the genes in question, this means that Myriad Genetics sought to claim authority over that part of your genetic code that would contain the sequence, whether or not it actually does.

So, congratulations, everyone. Judge Sweet has declared that you're not owned.

At least, not by that corporation.

leonard_arlotteleonard_arlotte on March 30th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
I am not a (patent) number! I am a free man!
Hydrahydra_velsen on March 30th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
Not sure I agree with this. It would really hurt efforts to treat problems through genetic therapy.

Also might make my dreams of getting an extra eye on the back of my head problematic!

Also could you disable the Captcha thing for folks that are logged in? Its hard to post comments here for people with trouble reading those, like me.
Your Obedient Serpent: tell it like it ISathelind on March 30th, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
The ruling doesn't mean you can't patent TESTS or TREATMENTS. It just says you can't patent the GENETIC SEQUENCES THEMSELVES.

Oh, and please verify your identity.

Edited at 2010-03-30 06:25 pm (UTC)
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on March 30th, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
I'd actually argue the opposite - that the secrecy around treatment patents is the biggest obstacle to treatment in the world right now. Science works poorly when other scientists can't check your work.
Tombfyretombfyre on March 30th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Seems like sound logic to me. ^^ Too much of the medical world is a business as it is. Things pertaining to genetics definitely need to be a little more "open source", as it were.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on March 30th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC)
Alas, this fight is far from over. It happened in the relatively science friendly New York district but it is headed for the science-hating US Supreme Court and the firms in question will pull out all the stops to see this overturned.
Your Obedient Serpent: Warning: Memetic Hazardathelind on March 30th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
You know, the appeals process is one reason why I wanted to present the 13th Amendment argument. It's crazy enough that it might not occur to anyone else, but it may fall into that time-honored category of just crazy enough to work.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on March 30th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
Well, when this gets to the USSC, you should give yourself a really fancy sounding title and write an amicus curiae to explain your reasoning. Which, as you very rightly pointed out, is not in fact any more tortured than the reasoning they use to try to patent naturally occurring objects. This should be a no-brainer, if you ask me, because of the centuries of legal precedence that merely finding something doesn't mean you can patent it, but since there are thousands of active patents, we clearly live in a bizarre time and place.
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on March 30th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
The first good news I've heard on this front in a very long time.
pseudo manitoupseudomanitou on March 30th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
Very good news. Of course... here's hoping the ruling stands long enough for actual legislation to cement it -- otherwise it hangs on one in hundreds of judges selling out and creating a precedent.

...can this ruling, for that matter, be stepped back down to agricultural business so we can either get FDA testing of GMOs or a relaxation of patent laws on GMOs?
one in a billionsiege on March 30th, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
I'd love to get FDA testing of GMOs, at the very least; also, I'd love to see patent-holders squirm when their crops modify other crops, instead of accusing the farmers of stealing their patent and forcing them into ruinous license agreements.
eggshellhammereggshellhammer on March 30th, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
"Who owns the patent to this vaccine?"
"Well... No one. I mean I - would you patent the sun?"
silussa on March 30th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
I remember commenting when the Patent Office made the original ruling "they've just opened the door to replicants and genetically engineered slaves."

Here's hoping the ruling sticks.