Here is Stephen Colbert's hilarious take on the recent court case finally recognizing that you can't patent natural products: "Formula 01 Liquid Genetic Material". Here's the TechDirt Link to the underlying court case: "Judge: Gene Patents Are Invalid". I hope that we will see many more instances of so-called intellectual property being struck down by the court system for abusing the limits of patent and copyright law.
As a quick summary Mike Masnick writes: "The case was brought against Myriad Genetics, who will surely appeal, so this is nowhere close to over. But it involved a test for breast cancer, that Myriad basically had a monopoly over -- and the claim was that this not only made it more difficult for women to get tested, but it also greatly discouraged other research in the field. In part, this was because the patents that Myriad held were incredibly broad."
An item of interest in Colbert's video clip was a remark by Morely Safer. Morely Safer in conducting the interview of Kevin Noonan makes the unfortunate (devils advocate?) remark that patents are necessary to provide the incentive for taking financial risk. While this may seem, on the surface, to be valid it is actually a totally ludicrous statement. People have been inventing and innovating foe centuries without the benefit of patent protection. Educational institutions, using tax dollars, also do research into solving medical problems. To go a step further, Michael Crichton wrote in 2007, a leading edge opinion piece, "Patenting Life" in the New York Times explaining the numerous problems associated with allowing gene patenting. Moreover, patents are meant for protecting (for a limited period of time) something non-obvious that you have invented. Uncovering a gene, a product of nature, (plain and simple) is not an invention.
TechDirt article: "More On The Gene Patent Ruling: What Happens Next"
New York Times Article: "Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent"
Here is a copy of the opinion.