Supreme Court To Consider Bad Patents Again

from the hopefully... dept

We’ve been discussing many of the reasons why the patent system is broken for quite some time — and while a few people who benefit from the system always show up to defend it (usually with tautological arguments that amount to “the system works, because it’s the system we have”), it appears that more and more people are recognizing that the system is fundamentally broken. The latest is author Michael Crichton who discusses how the patent system has expanded far too broadly to protect things that should never be protected — and how it’s harming innovation in many ways by making it prohibitively expensive. The focus of his article is on a specific case that is going to the Supreme Court this week, where a company was able to get the patent on the correlation between a certain amino acid and a certain vitamin. They now consider even publishing the details to be a violation of their patent — even if it’s simply factual information. Over the past few decades, patent lawyers have pushed for expansions in what patents can cover, well beyond what the system was ever intended to do. Granting a patent is giving someone a monopoly — and that should only be done in the rarest of cases where the market has been shown to be insufficient in rewarding innovation. From the earliest days of the patent system, Thomas Jefferson made it clear that there was an inherent downside to patents, and they should only be granted under special circumstances. Why that should include things like correlations or business models (or software) has never been adequately explained.


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Comments on “Supreme Court To Consider Bad Patents Again”

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22 Comments
discojohnson says:

Re: Uh...

Even worse Scott: when you discover factual information you don’t want to share because it can be used for profit, it’s called a TRADE SECRET. McDonald’s “secret sauce” is a prime example of this. I want to know why the USPO allowed itself to get this broken that they appear to be working on commission!

Anonymous Coward says:

How about a link

Neither you nor the article link to the patent in question – or even to the court documents. The NYT article says it is “bad” and you repeat it to support an argument on an issue where you have already made up your minds. This makes it true?

This is one area where TechDirt really fails as a website – if you are against patents, fine, but how about doing real research instead of parroting those who agree with you. Just because Chriton says “it’s the correlation” doesn’t mean that’s what the case is really about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How about a link

Neither you nor the article link to the patent in question – or even to the court documents. The NYT article says it is “bad” and you repeat it to support an argument on an issue where you have already made up your minds. This makes it true?

2 seconds on Google, and I found http://patentlaw.typepad.com/patent/2005/10/labcorp_v_metab_1.html

which directly quotes the disputed part of the patent. I also found many other documents about this specific case. While a link in the article would be convenient, this isn’t kindergarten, and you can do research on your own. But, I hope this helps you out.

Zeroth404 says:

Patetns are evil.

Let me define evil: Any action that actively or potentially hurts the survival or evolution of one’s own species.

This is the deepest evil there is. Genocide is along the same lines, although obviously much more severe.

Patents restrict our ability to apply technology to good use. What would have happened if someone patented oxygen masks? fire hydrants? anything that humanity might depend on in any way?

Patents are evil, no matter how small the impact, if even because they are born of greed. You patent because you want credit for having made it or so that only you can profit from the sale of it. Thats greed, even if it’s good business practice.

angry dude says:

Re: greed is good !

“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good.

Greed is right.

Greed works.

Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Gordon Gekko

Scott says:

Re: Re: greed is good !

Yes, you are absolutely right, companies hiding behind trade secrets and patents have always helped mankind.

Drug companies patent drugs that save lives so that no generics can be made, then hide the results behind trade secrets and release the good reviews.

Greed for money has allowed bad products to continue to be marketed hidden behind trade secrets and caused many deaths. It has allowed “independent” groups to ignore fundamental flaws, and politicians to refuse to help in such situations.

Greed, just as anything else needs to be tempered and controlled to be of value, todays rampant more money at any cost society can not sustain itself.

Zeroth404 says:

“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed — for lack of a better word — is good.”

In essence the root of all actions are greed (i.e., I want the world to be a better place), but that is no justification. The fact remains that the greedy are just plain narcisistic and that doesn’t help anyone but themselves.

“Yes, you are absolutely right, companies hiding behind trade secrets and patents have always helped mankind.”

“Drug companies patent drugs that save lives so that no generics can be made, then hide the results behind trade secrets and release the good reviews.”

I’m going to try very hard not to insult you.
Generics? What the hell are you talkign about? Who has the right to determine what is “official”? The only thing patents do are create monopolies. If no “Generics” can be made, as you call them, these ill individuals have to pay top-dollar just to get treatments. “Generics”, as you call them, are what make Free Market so great. You can get get your drugs from Company A, or if yo ucant afford them, you can go get them from Company B, C, or D.

angry dude says:

Re: no patents = no new medicine

If you abolish patents on new drugs you will not see any new drugs coming out – all drugs will be generic and old.

This is rather sad but 100% correct fact.

Yes, this is about greed.

And I would rather pay monopoly prices but have access to all new medicines out there.

You never know what you might need as you grow older ,

e.g. Viagra, Levitra etc. etc.

Or you might get AIDS or cancer one day, and without patents nobody will do anything to develop new drugs to treat those.

Greed runs the world ! Not altruism.

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