Alzheimer's Research Disrupted By Ridiculous Patent Dispute

from the wonderful dept

We keep hearing stories of important healthcare research being disrupted by patents, and the latest, as pointed out by Slashdot, involves an organization called the Alzheimer's Institute of America... which happened to buy some patents on a DNA sequence, and is now suing or threatening to sue a ton of researchers in the space. Amusingly, AIA presents itself as an organization committed to supporting Alzheimer's research, when it appears the organization is more focused on shaking down researchers.

The key lawsuit at issue is the one filed against the Jackson Laboratory, which provides special lab mice for Alzheimer's research and is funded by the NIH. But AIA is pissed off that it's not getting a cut:
The AIA is alleging that Jackson infringed on its Swedish mutation patent, and others, when the lab distributed 22 strains of mice with the mutation to researchers; the organization is seeking unspecified damages.

The lawsuit also accuses six commercial companies of improperly profiting from the Swedish mutation, for instance by using mice bearing the mutation to test potential drugs. Furthermore, the AIA has filed four separate suits relating to the patent against academic institutions and companies in Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania (see 'Patent disputes').

But the litigation against Jackson could have the broadest impact on research. According to Einhorn, the AIA is demanding that Jackson hands over the names of all scientists who have worked with the relevant mouse models; this raises the possibility that those individual researchers might also be sued.
AIA has tried to defend its actions by saying that it's okay to use the mouse models for academic research, but you can't make money from it. The Jackson Laboratory points out that it's not making money from the models, and that it only got some money for the models which doesn't even cover the costs associated with the models.

But the key issue is that as a lab that relies on philanthropy and grants to operate, the last thing it can afford is a costly patent battle. Instead, it's asked the NIH to fight on its behalf. The lab could just settle, but the AIA is demanding that a settlement would involve Jackson handing over researchers' names who received the models, and Jackson finds that handing out such information would be "repugnant."

There are all sorts of reasons why researchers are doing this kind of work on Alzheimer's. Patents have very little to do with it. Many people would genuinely like to find ways to prevent, delay or (one can hope) cure the disease. But it appears that patents are seriously interfering with that mission. That these efforts to block research are coming from an organization that purports to support Alzheimer's research is nothing short of sickening.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 11:31am

    Patent trolls

    Where are you now? Here troll, troll, troll. C'mon I really would love to hear a defense of this from you.

     

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    iamtheky (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    ahem,

    Im not surprised when nuclear scientists get radiation poisoning, so why be surprised when Alzheimers researchers forget why they started in the first place.

    ty, ty.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2011 @ 11:53am

    Notice that the patents have no research value of their own. Likely no research was done to obtain the patents (the patents are generally acquired before any research is done) and the patents in no way provide any of the information necessary to eliminate the need for research to be done (remember that patents are supposed to promote openness and the sharing of knowledge by providing us with valuable information and especially researched information, but that's not the case here because research was being done on what the patents allegedly cover and so the patents did not provide the information necessary to eliminate any research). The researchers who are being sued likely didn't even see these patents to begin with and were unaware them and so it's unlikely the patents provided any research or other inspiration whatsoever.

     

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    cjstg (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

    dark ages

    i was just struck with the thought of how this situation of ip controls reminds me of the history of the church (and the ruling elite) using religion to control the populous for its own gains. the effect of that was that technology was set back by several hundred years. anyone doing anything that the church disagreed with (didn't benefit them) was labeled heretical and the benefits of those actions taken away. today, instead of being called a heretic people get sued.

     

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    Andrew, Apr 6th, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Their web page (doesn't) say it all

    I notice that their web page is effectively blank. They have a home page that says a few "nice" things about research, but every one of their links goes to a page that says:

    "Please Excuse Us

    We at the AIA are working to update our website and anticipate having the information you've requested avalaible online soon. Please check back later."

     

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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Damn Thieves

    It's leeches like these Alzheimer's researchers that are the whole reason we need the intellectual property system! People who are too stupid and untalented to actually produce anything themselves; they just take and take and take, demanding everything for free, without ever contributing anything to anyone! How will the economy ever survive if intellectual parasites like these are allowed to exist?

     

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    lux (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Amusingly, AIA presents itself as an organization committed to supporting Alzheimer's research, when it appears the organization is more focused on shaking down researchers.

    Yet another smugly presented, gross oversimplification of a for-profit company doing what for-profit companies do in the current climate of IP law.

     

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    Christopher (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    Question.

    Why isn't this kind of patent abuse punishable by death?

    -C

     

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      Nicedoggy, Apr 6th, 2011 @ 1:33pm

      Re: Question.

      I have a similar question why are we not breaking the law more often to save others?

      Maybe technology will enable people to work around those laws by allowing people to telecommute to another lab in another country where laws are not this absurd.

       

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    Nicedoggy, Apr 6th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    Can we produce medicine in the house like maybe a garden like this, that seats inside the house?

    http://www.tuvie.com/kitchen-nano-garden-serves-excellent-way-to-grow-your-own-vegetables/

    Those rodents doesn't seem to difficult to replicate, after all they are mouses and they procreate like rabbits

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 1:52pm

    NO AC's...yet

    Hmmmmmm. Appears our usual AC trolls are staying far far away from this one. Maybe they are not that stupid after all? Nahhhh just kidding... they are.

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

    Perhaps some of these people who work at the institute never had to care for a mother who slowly turned into a vegetable unable to talk, feed herself or control her bowels.

    its a slow, horribly undignified way to die and it will tear out your heart on a daily basis. Anyone holding up research because of a patent dispute should be made to work in an Alzheimer's ward for a month.

    People wonder why I despise Attorneys as much as I do. Tell me how this kind of legal BS helps anyone other than these parasitic pieces of shit and a few greedy clients.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 3:44pm

    Without this patent, people would have no incentive to develop Alzheimer's.

     

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    Thomas (profile), Apr 6th, 2011 @ 4:07pm

    Typical of labs and pharma companies.

    They are far more interested in making money than helping people. Pharma would much rather earn huge amounts saving fewer people than earning slightly smaller amounts helping more people. Just shows how corporations have no social conscience anymore; they are strictly slaves to profit and Wall Street.

     

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    Rekrul, Apr 6th, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    The lab should hold a press conference and get the media to tell the public how the AIA is killing research. Maybe some really bad publicity would convince them to back off.

     

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    Abjectly Terrified, Apr 6th, 2011 @ 8:51pm

    Apologies, I'm upset.

    I took my husband in for a prostate biopsy today, based on a PSA result which, as far as we can tell from many different sources, is indicative and determinative of absolutely jack shit. This result was used to deny him life insurance coverage, so in order to 1) see if there's anything to actually worry about and 2) get a letter from a professional stating he's fine if there isn't and obtain insurance (we hope), he had to endure this humiliating procedure and terrifying situation that came out of literally nowhere...

    Who's got the fucking patent on this weapon of mass destruction? Who's turning a buck on making my husband cry?

    I was wondering the other day if the nuclear disaster in Japan and its unthinkable effects would suddenly pry a cure for cancer out of a forgotten desk drawer somewhere...or if these monsters will just patent - and sue and hinder and complicate - new bullshit that only treats symptoms, that compliments the not so modern method of butchery that currently exists as the only real solution...

    Mice. Fucking mice they'll kill people over.

    These are the foxes running the henhouse...no, that's insulting to animals who merely behave out of need...

    These are human monsters committing crimes against humanity.

     

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    staff, Apr 8th, 2011 @ 8:04am

    innovation

    It is not innovation that patents hinder, but the theft of.

     

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