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07.08.18

The Term ‘Life Science’ Has Outlived Its Usefulness

Posted in America, Deception, Patents at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Large pumpkin

Summary: People who merely explain what’s in nature pretend to have just invented the wheel; discoveries are not inventions, however, especially discoveries of what has always been around; therefore patents are entirely misplaced in the domain, even if one calls that a “science”

THE TERM “Life Sciences” was always rather bizarre to me. It started to be used a lot more after I had completed my Ph.D., whereupon all sorts of departments around here started calling themselves “Life Science” (vague term), offered courses in “the Life Sciences”, job titles started to be renamed accordingly and so on. It’s not a synonym for biologist, geneticist etc. It’s just some nebulous new thing.

“It’s not a synonym for biologist, geneticist etc. It’s just some nebulous new thing.”What is a “Life Science” really? A science or an investigation of life itself? Or nature? Maybe reverse engineering? However one defines it (and definitions may change over time and de facto depend on common use), the term nowadays seems to be used quite abundantly to justify patents on things that do not merit them. It’s not medical, it’s not necessarily a science (I did my Ph.D. in “Medical Biophysics” by the way) and it often involves something that’s not invented, just privatised. Consider this new article titled “Ethiopia vs Europe: The Intellectual Property of an Ancient Grain, Teff” and another slightly older one from the same source: “Colombia: Reinstates Roundup Fumigations, This Time By Drone”.

Who ‘owns’ seeds? Who ‘owns’ animals? We don’t talk about individual seeds and animals but the very concept of them, or the DNA behind them. The EPO and the USPTO have both stepped in a puddle of insane patent maximalism, invoking at least the wrath of farmers in Europe, where Monsanto has come to ‘rename’ itself Bayer.

“Who ‘owns’ seeds? Who ‘owns’ animals? We don’t talk about individual seeds and animals but the very concept of them, or the DNA behind them.”6 days ago Kluwer Patent Blog wrote about “Edwards Lifesciences” (one word) and IAM, which promotes patent trolls, has just said (in its headline) that “HP moves into life sciences” (whatever that means).

Here they go again with “life sciences,” often a misnomer and excuse for patents on nature and life. “Life Sciences” is, in our experience, mostly a couple of buzzwords (two-word term) by which to promote patents on life itself. That’s a problem. Patent Docs, a site of patent maximalists, now has this thing called “PTAB Life Sciences Report”. The preface: “About the PTAB Life Sciences Report: Each month we will report on developments at the PTAB involving life sciences patents.”

“They basically call life itself (or nature) a “science” and thus make it sound acceptable to grant patents on life/nature.”Now they say “life sciences patents,” alluding quite likely to some vague concepts like patented genetics. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) rightly tackles many of these.

Patent examiners need to ask themselves whether that term, “life sciences patents,” means anything like “science patents”. They basically call life itself (or nature) a “science” and thus make it sound acceptable to grant patents on life/nature.

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