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Patents Roundup: Microsoft Versus Biology Research, Patent Systems in US and EU Challenged

Life in detail



Summary: Microsoft's patenting practices agitate the scientific community, patent reforms seen as necessary and likely

JUST THE OTHER day we mentioned Microsoft's patent on "studying evolution". It's an example of some of those patents which kill [1, 2, 3, 4]. Given the relationship between the pharmaceutical cartel and Microsoft, this may not be entirely surprising. In public speeches, Bill Gates likens development of software to the invention of life-saving drugs in order to justify software patenting.



The Register has another report on this subject which we only alluded to on Thursday.

Microsoft goes Darwinian with evolutionary tree patent



[...]

Because such a patent could potentially hobble an entire scientific field, evolutionary biologists will surely be keeping a closer eye on Microsoft's newfound interest in gene-splicing software.


In the words of Science: [emphasis in red is ours]

A 2-year-old patent application by Microsoft has claimed the invention of techniques that evolutionary biologists have been using for years to discern how organisms were related to one another through evolutionary time, based on similarities in genetic sequence. As word about it spreads, the phylogenetics community is increasingly worried. They think the patent is unlikely to pass muster at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because it seems obvious. However, should the application be approved, some researchers may find that they are doing work that infringes it.


At Groklaw (News Picks), Jones writes: "You might find the reactions to this article by scientists of interest here, including the comments, and don't miss the graphic of Darwin's first sketch of the "tree of life" superimposed with a WGA notice."

What on Earth is Microsoft doing?

Windows and Xbox are already killing innocent people [1, 2, 3] and Microsoft is now stepping in stomping on the medical field too. For those who do not know just how corrupt this industry can be, check out what's happening this week with Obama and healthcare. There is an already-exposed AstroTurf whose aim is to ensure an ill system of uninsured people stays in place.

Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod's public relations and ad industry ties -- which received some scrutiny during the presidential campaign -- are again being questioned. Opponents of health care reform (mostly Republicans) are criticizing the "huge ad buys" that pro-reform groups are making through Axelrod's old firm. "Two separate $12 million ad campaigns advocating Obama's health care plan ... were produced and placed partly by AKP&D Message & Media, a firm founded by Axelrod that employs his son and still owes Axelrod $2 million," reports Politico.com.


This would probably take us further off topic, so going back to the issue with patents, here is a new essay titled "Looks Like IP Is About To Slow Down Innovation In Clean Tech"

Plenty of studies have shown, over and over again, that in an emerging market, the last thing you want is patent protection. It slows down innovation and adoption drastically. That's because in a brand new emerging market, the bigger issue is actually figuring out how to get the market established -- and that means a lot of different efforts getting thrown at the wall, and the ability for multiple parties to try different approaches to getting things to work in a way that the market wants. Often this means a lot more sharing of ideas (even among competitors), as everyone begins to recognize that getting over that adoption hurdle is a much bigger deal than hoarding IP. And that's a key point.


One thing to assess and to measure is "innovation" -- whatever it may mean -- but what about mortality rates in the case of medicine? As we showed three weeks ago, life-saving drugs are being banned or blocked because the patent system is driven by profit, not ethics. Will this ever be rectified? Here's a start:

An en banc ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has narrowed the reach of U.S. patent laws covering companies' overseas sales and production.


Glyn Moody has just published the following:

Why We Must Call Them "Intellectual Monopolies"



[...]

There we have it: the more opponents collude by using the "eye-pea" term, the more the monopolists can point to this as "proof" that copyright and patents are property, not monopolies.


As we noted some days ago, the European Commission had begun reassessing the patent system. Here is another take on the subject:

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market and Services plans to conclude a contract for a comprehensive study on patent quality. The aim is to study the quality of patent rights with economic analysis in order to propose effective policy solutions for the optimal functioning of the future patent system in Europe considering its objectives to encourage innovation and the diffusion of new technology and knowledge. This should take into account a system with the co-existence of national and European patents, and a future Community patent which is currently being negotiated between Member States.


There is bad news here. The Community patent, which can facilitate software patents inside Europe, is rearing its ugly head again.

“Today, nearly 40 percent of a senior's healthcare spending is on pharmaceutical medications.“

--Dennis Hastert

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