Science, Patents, Tech – Comparison & Thoughts


This article nicely describes the cases for today’s reading. I saw interesting comparisons to the content of our tech discussions we have been having over the past weeks. The cases for this week concerned the patentability of scientific endeavors. Growth in this area is no doubt aided by growth in technology. And like technology, the ability for others to use the information, process (etc.) discovered is good for vast application and potential improvement. In these cases, the Courts found that if the aspect at issue (a gene sequence, process, etc.) was not created but merely discoverable (regardless of how remarkable it was) it was not patentable. This bodes well for those trying to use the new found information to expand upon the newly discovered information. Does it strike the proper balance in incentivizing people to pursue finding information so novel in the scientific field? Could they be compensated for their findings by selling research, or instructions for finding? Should they create a separate venture implementing their research from which to profit? Should the goal of this research not be profit and the funding for the research come from grants, or would it be okay to compensate the workers after discovery – compensate with profit?

Beyond this, there does seem to be some distinction from the tech field – in the science area you are dealing with naturally occurring phenomenons. This would bode less well for receiving a patent. (I am also unsure of how often those developing in the tech area apply for patents – I imagine infrequently). Perhaps the process involved in science and the purpose of patent protection in the Constitution has an overarching commonality – perhaps a broader benefit to society – which the Founders wished to protect. Accordingly, it is more difficult to get patents. And when they are received, they receive stronger protection?

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