Utah Wants To Own State Microbes; May Demand Royalty On Any Products Developed

from the all-your-bugs-are-belong-to-us dept

This one's from about a month ago, but I can't find any info on whether or not the bill has gone anywhere. It's yet another crazy proposal coming out of the Utah legislature, which seems to really lead the field in crazy proposals out of state legislatures. This one, sent in by Kevin Cummings, is about a proposed bill that would effectively grant Utah control over the state's organisms/microbes. Seriously. Apparently the legislator wants to create a patent-like regime that would force anyone to pay up if they made anything with Utah organisms:
"If they're using Utah organisms, we think Utah as a state should benefit from royalties. Like a patent," said Sen. Lyle Hillyard
Of course, that's a total bastardization of what a patent is for. A patent is supposed to be a limited incentive to invent in an effort to promote the progress -- and, in exchange for the patent, you're supposed to teach the invention. None of those other aspects apply to what Hillyard is discussing here. There is no limit. There is no incentive (if anything, it takes away incentives from doing stuff in Utah). It doesn't promote progress (just giving money to the state) and there is no teaching or disclosure involved. In other words, it has all of the worst parts of a patent and nothing good at all. It's basically a blatant money-grab, highlighting the concept of ownership culture, where people try to claim ownership of things that cannot and should not be own-able.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Krish (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    It's tithing for microbes!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:33am

    How does one differentiate a "Utah" microbe from, say, an Idaho Microbe? Do Utah microbes attend Mormon church masses? Do they have well coiffed hair?

    I wanna know dammit!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    wheatus, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:42am

    If....

    this passes, will it mean that if I poop at a rest stop in Utah whilst on tour, that Utah owns the IP on my turd? I'll have to hold it 'til Arizona? *sings Public Enemy song* BY THE TIME I GET TO ARIZONA!!!!

    That's a shitty law,
    bbb
    wheatus.com

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    and I thought East Texas was bad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:53am

    Re:

    Utah microbe is cow shaped, duh.

     

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  6.  
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    Dave (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Big Sigh

    As a Utahn, I don't know why we elect these wackos. Seriously, none of my neighbors or anyone else I've talked to support these positions. Why do our represetatives?

     

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  7.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:57am

    Re: Big Sigh

    "As a Utahn, I don't know why we elect these wackos. Seriously, none of my neighbors or anyone else I've talked to support these positions. Why do our represetatives?"

    Because those positions were discovered upon golden tablets perhaps?

     

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  8.  
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    Sergio, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:58am

    Really?!?!

    Wow, that sounds like it could be straight out of The Onion!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:11am

    Liability

    Wouldn't that make Utah liable for any illness caused by microbes in Utah?

     

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  10.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:15am

    Cooties

    Not only has Utah admitted it has cooties, it wants to keep them all for themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    andrew johnson (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:21am

    and how is this news?

    One of my first introductions to the process of government came in the form of Boys State. Although I never did quite understand the goal of this program, it did, in my opinion, provide a very realistic portrayal of government at large. Basically the whole program consisted of granting a large group of adolescents free democratic reign over anything they could think of. Inevitably the week started off with countless proclamations of ownership over the atmosphere, the universe, and everything and everything else.. before promptly settling at a point just above absolute chaos.

     

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  12.  
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    Dave (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:21am

    Even Bigger Sigh

    I know your are just trolling, so I probably shouldn't even reply, but I know for a fact that my church has not advocated patenting microbes. Or warrantless searches. Or global warming denial.

    You may have legitimate critisms of my religion, but I doubt any of them have a place in this discussion. Don't group it with these neo-conservative nutjobs.

     

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  13.  
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    DS78 (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:23am

    SO....

    If I get sick in Utah can I sue the state? JW

     

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  14.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:25am

    Re: Even Bigger Sigh

    agree. that was completely unfair.

    Though Utah does seem to have alot of nutjobs in high places.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:26am

    Re: SO....

    I have to admit, a coworker just mentioned that as we were talking about this. Would any kind of illness caught in Utah be a liability then?

     

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  16.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:27am

    They use markers

    When they engineer the microbes,they insert specific nonfunctional gene sequences that act as a fingerprint. This lets them determine if the bug is theirs or not.

     

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  17.  
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    Ryan, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:30am

    Goddamn greedy corporations, we need to get the G-men we voted for in there to regulate the hell out of them!

    Wait, shit. I just copied and pasted that argument template from somewhere, but it doesn't even really apply here...sorry guys.

     

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  18.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:41am

    Re: Even Bigger Sigh

    Oh come on, I was joking. I seriously didn't mean any offense. And I certainly don't have any issues with your religion that I don't have with most others.

    I humbly apologize not only to you, but to all your wives as well....

    JOKING!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:53am

    Re: They use markers

    sure, take the fun out of everything.....

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:57am

    Re: SO....

    Probably the opposite. You get sick in Utah, then you gotta pay up. You are using their microbes after all.

     

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  21.  
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    Marni, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 12:15pm

    One might take this further and suggest they think they own the residents of the state, since they are organisms too.

     

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  22.  
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    A. Lincoln, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    Slavery again?

    So, Utah will be the first to engage in Microbe slavery. They OWN those lifeforms!

    What's the precedent for this? Do they own all of the living organism in the state? And if they do, are they responsible for the actions of those living organisms?

    Do they own all of the stray cats? Do they own all of the gophers?

    Where does there "ownership" end?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Josh (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Even Bigger Sigh

    Shame on you Dark Helmet, making fun of poor Mormans. That's like making fun of Scientologists, it's just not polite.(What was that sarcasm mark again? Oh yeah. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100115/1200127774.shtml)

     

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  24.  
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    Josh (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 12:52pm

    Is it April Fool's day already? No? Then why is this here? You mean they're serious?! ... *facepalm*

     

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  25.  
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    Jim C, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    Utah's microbes

    I think this is a great idea. As Utah needs to take ownership of it's microbes. Of course if I get sick from one of Utah's microbes I'll have to sue them for damages caused by their microbe. That's only fair.

     

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  26.  
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    PEBKAC (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Cooties

    Worse - they want you to pay for their cooties.

    So what's the market like for Utah-grown trichinosis? Or scabies? Or chiggers? Or herpes?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    UniKyrn, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    No problem. The next case of food poisoning in Utah, must have been a Utah microbe owned by the state that caused it, the state pays for all damages caused by it.

    Repeat as needed with any other disease until legislature gets the point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    PEBKAC (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    Re: If....

    You only have to hold it if you want to retain ownership distribution rights.

     

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  29.  
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    yozoo, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Chinatown

    Forget it Mike . . . its Utah.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:09pm

    Utah is my home, my family is here and the location is familiar, but, i would not blink a eye if our entire state government died tomorrow.


    seriously, these people are so far backwards and up there own Mormon ass they cant smell there own shit and cant see where they are walking.

     

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  31.  
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    Overcast (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    Re: SO....

    If I get sick in Utah can I sue the state? JW

    I would think so - since they are claiming ownership. It would be like someone's dog biting you and their fault for not keeping it under control.

     

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  32.  
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    Potato JOE, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    well if the world needs a stupid pill

    developed from utah well i guess they should get a piece a da action on it after all being stupid is what that state is all about

    yup now no one will want to do a damn bit there.
    GOOD JOB GOVT screw tech out buy claiming you own every molecule right down to the center of the earth YES think of the profits oh wait what if no one else does this.....

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    bob, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    It's dem tablets

    that dem guys said they saw that had the organisms on em that grew the book of Mormon.

     

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  34.  
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    Richard (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    Actually they might have a point but they're going the wrong way

    At the moment, thanks to the gradual "stretching" of patent law, company X can come and dig up some microbes in Utah, patent them and then charge people in Utah for using them.

    That itself is wrong, discoveries in nature should not be patentable.

    Utah may think they have found a smart way to hit back and take some of the profit themselves - but they would be better off backing those who are trying to rein in patent law.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Dave (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Re: Even Bigger Sigh

    I really wasn't offended. You have to have kind of a thick skin as a Mormon on the internet. There's a whole lot of vitriol out there directed at us. I only replied because I wanted to make clear my church is not my government. Our legislators might make decisions based on their beliefs, and they might consider themselves Mormon, but sometimes I would swear that they actually belong to some other church that shares nothing with mine except a name.

    Thanks for the apology, though! Are we friends now? :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re: SO....

    No they would be using you they take your energy and nutrients from your body and getting free transportation. Should change the state for rent... Could renting your body be considered prostitution though?

     

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  37.  
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    Dave (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Even Bigger Sigh

    Well Josh, Um. Yeah. It's generally not polite to make fun of others. I'm not sure anything positive ever comes out of being mean spirited.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Won't pass

    Can't patent naturally occurring organisms.

    Moreover, it can't be copyrighted either, being as how it's naturally occurring.

    They could patent novel ways to *use* their organisms, and copyright analysis and collected data about the organisms.

    The stupidity of politicians never ceases to amaze me. Of course, it comes from an electorate that follows the same trajectory.

    I'm *so* glad I moved out of that country before the fall. Hopefully, I can disengage my financials sufficiently before the collapse and the desperate grab for cash that will immediately precede it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Even Bigger Sigh

    We always were, kid. You just didn't know it... :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: If....

    *ponders* so that means, if a monkey poops in Utah, it does not own the rights it would need to then fling that poop, and as such can be sued for doing so? *laughs*

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Re: SO....

    i was thinking the exact same thing

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Reed, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:06pm

    Probable reason for this

    Utah is the biggest manufacturer of supplements and vitamins in the United States. This huge and unregulated market is motivating their legislature with money signs in their eyes. They want a piece of the pie so to speak.

    Of course the products are pure crap, wasting resources to make money from suckers who believe a pill or a drink is the key to health. With the pendulum continuously swinging towards buyer beware nowadays it makes you wonder if it will ever swing back again.

     

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  43.  
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    Seumas Hyslop (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    What this could ultimately do is backfire, as the cost of research in Utah goes up, people start exporting their research to other states - and Utah loses the employment driven by research.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    PEBKAC (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: If....

    Luckily, poop is a renewable resource. You just need to do it elsewhere than Utah.

    Although it's hardly a scarce resource, so you'd need to copyright your DNA to really have any control.

    And lots of swabs.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 3:54pm

    I wonder if comments here would change if instead of microbes the subject matter was oil, gold, or some other of a number of important and useful natural resources?

     

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  46.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 7:02pm

    Re:

    I wonder if comments here would change if instead of microbes the subject matter was oil, gold, or some other of a number of important and useful natural resources?

    Why would it change? Why should anyone have to pay a royalty to Utah for any of those things?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 9:14pm

    Re: Re:

    I presume this means that if a vein of gold is discovered to underlie you home you would be perfectly satisfied to allow its removal and explotation by others without any benefits flowing to you and your family.

     

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  48.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:22pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I presume this means that if a vein of gold is discovered to underlie you home you would be perfectly satisfied to allow its removal and explotation by others without any benefits flowing to you and your family.

    Are you really trying to compare excavation of private property with people doing something with a microbe?

    I just want to confirm that you really want to make perhaps the most ridiculous argument you've ever made on this site -- and you've made a lot -- before destroying it as being idiotic.

    I'll give you a chance to admit that you didn't really want to go down this path. I suggest you take it.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    bikey, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:36am

    microbes and ownership

    This has nothing to do with crazy Utah, or mormondom. This is what many genetic-resource rich nations have been fighting for to keep from being ripped off by big pharma, monsanto, etc. You might not like the idea that a US state would do it, but it's not a cocamamie idea. Article 3 of the1992 Biodiversity Convention provides:
    Article 3. Principle

    States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    http://le.utah.gov/~2010/bills/sbillamd/sb0051s01.pdf

    It helps to first read a bill before waxing poetic.

    The scope of the bill pertains only to lands owned by the "public" at large (in this case by Utah and its political subdivisions, and not federal land which encompasses most of the state (and which, by the way, Utah is apparently considering a showdown with the federal government by exploring the possiblity of the state using its emminent domain power to condemn federal land), and such "public" land is no different in kind than "private" land.

    I express no opinion on the wisdom of such a law, nor do I express any opinion on any infirmities it may have vis a vis possibly relevant federal law. All I point out is that the concept is not something that can be dimissed by the mere waive of a hand and trying to relate basic law associated with real property to patent law.

    If anything is ridiculous, it is your seeming reluctance to entertain for even a moment the notion that more may be in play than what your article might otherwise suggest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It helps to first read a bill before waxing poetic.


    I did, in fact, read it. Why you assume otherwise is beyond me, but is typical of you.

    The scope of the bill pertains only to lands owned by the "public" at large (in this case by Utah and its political subdivisions, and not federal land which encompasses most of the state

    And that somehow makes it okay?

    I express no opinion on the wisdom of such a law

    Yes, you did, actually. Don't try to back down now.

    All I point out is that the concept is not something that can be dimissed by the mere waive of a hand and trying to relate basic law associated with real property to patent law.


    Sure it is. I recognize that you have made it clear that you think that any law must be a good law and we should shut up about it, but I'm going to express my opinion, and not hide behind some lame false statement like you do.

    This is a dumb law. It makes no sense and I have no problem explaining why. Comparing it to mining for gold is, frankly, ridiculous.

    If anything is ridiculous, it is your seeming reluctance to entertain for even a moment the notion that more may be in play than what your article might otherwise suggest.

    Not at all. First, I am always willing to entertain that there's more in play. That's why we leave the comments open so people can add more information and we can have a discussion. But you had no interest in having a discussion.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I initially made a simple observation and asked aloud if the substitution of words might influence comments. This seems to me to be a legitimate contribution in that it might give some pause for reflection.

    I noted the article did not make the distinction that the pending bill was limited to public land retained by the state of Utah. Moreover, the subject of the bill has absolutely nothing to do with patents.

    Contrary to what you assert, I expressed no opinion on the wisdom and so stated. I likewise expressed no opinion on whether or not this type of law might run into problems with federal law. Thus, I am at a loss trying to figure out from what I should be backing down.

    A more pertinent point that I believed you might raise is that unlike oil, gold, and other natural resources, organic matter such a plants, microbes, etc. are self-replicating, and that this might be a distinction worth exploring.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Annie, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 5:45pm

    That does sound like a pretty greedy thing to do. Maybe he should become more familiarUtah patent laws, and what patents are really for. I agree, there would be no incentive with this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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