Bonum Certa Men Certa

The Ethics of Patents

Tech eye



Summary: A close look at some new examples of patents that kill people rather than save their lives

TECHRIGHTS has been covering ethical problems with patents since about 2007. Glyn Moody has done so too, even at a time when Groklaw, for example, was somewhat of an apologist for these (living and working among lawyers is an experience that takes its toll). Moody currently points to a new example which he says shows "how gene patents cause suffering". To quote Nature:



The website of the Alzheimer's Institute of America (AIA) doesn't reveal much about the organization, but portrays it as committed to supporting research and patients. Among people who study Alzheimer's disease, however, the AIA, based in St Louis, Missouri, is best known for filing lawsuits against companies and researchers — a practice that scientists say could hamper the progress of research into combating the dreaded disease.


Groklaw too is currently covering a new example of unethical patents that cause death:

Here's the MP3 [some are having trouble with that url, so try this one] of today's oral argument in the appeal before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit of Association for Molecular Pathology et al v. USPTO , Appeal No. 2010-1406. This is the case about whether human genes should be patentable, specifically genes for identifying the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.


Previously, renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz explained why TRIPS (patents) is like murder. This is no longer some extreme point of view, it's just progressive and it becomes more widely accepted in the age of the Internet, which fosters communication and sharing. It's time to modernise (or abolish) patent law just as it is time to redo copyright law. Even Groklaw changed its stance regarding patents.

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