More Examples Of Patents Harming Research

from the can't-research-these-bioengineered-seeds dept

JJ points us to the latest in a long list of examples of how patents are being used not to "promote the progress" but to actively hinder it. In this case, bioengineering companies are using intellectual property claims to stop academic researchers from doing any research on genetically modified seeds and crops. Even though the seeds can be bought, the companies are using IP rights to put in place ridiculous licensing agreements that forbid any research on those seeds or the crops that come out of them. A group of scientists are now complaining about this to the EPA, but perhaps they should be complaining to the USPTO and Congress, as well, as it's time that this sort of abuse of intellectual property was stopped entirely.

Filed Under: academic research, bioengineering, patents, research


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  • identicon
    eleete, 27 Feb 2009 @ 2:16am

    I need a License to eat ?

    What's next licensing salads ? If I share it, am I sued, or expected to pay more in licensing fees ? I guess this is one way to bring out the stupidity of the system's evolution to what it has become. Finally something the average citizen can grasp.

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  • identicon
    Clouser, 27 Feb 2009 @ 3:38am

    Software Patents

    Software patents can also harm research efforts in computer science programmes.
    -Michael Clouser

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

  • identicon
    Michial, 27 Feb 2009 @ 4:08am

    What gives you the right

    What gives you the right to reverse engineer this companies work just so you can rip them off?

    They spent the money doing the research, they spent the money on all the trial and error failures and they spend the money on the time they invested into all this. They have a right to protect that interest...

    They have every right to restrict how their product is used.

    for those of you crying about not being able ripoff their research just to save you time and money, screw off!

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

    • identicon
      Liam, 27 Feb 2009 @ 4:26am

      Re: What gives you the right

      oh no, money and investment, so much more important then expanding our collective knowledge and furthering science.

      We can't have that can we, a better world through sharing ideas and knowledge, lets forget that's exactly how we got to were we are today.

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

      • identicon
        Michial, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:09am

        Re: Re: What gives you the right

        What was the old saying "Those who can... Do and those who can't... teach"

        So now it's those who can do and those that can't cry that they cannot share in the benefits...

        I'm sorry I own no other human a damn thing, and if they want to benefit from my hard labor and work then they can pay for it, or die while I benefit...

        I have a responsibility to make MY little part of the world better, that means to me a bigger house, a nicer car, better food etc... I have no responsibility to any one else.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2009 @ 8:15am

          Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

          And no one else has any responsibility for you, either. Maybe the cops will stop patrolling near your house, and when you have an accident, you can call a private ambulance and EMTs to scrape you off the pavement.

          With any luck, you'll die without wasting any of our taxpayer money. You're the puke of humanity.

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

        • identicon
          Eric M, 27 Feb 2009 @ 9:39am

          Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

          I Feel sorry for you Michial...I hope you enjoy your little part of the world...my only concern is why you are invading our shared part of the world by posting here? Go live in your big house and don't communicate with the outside world since according to you, you are all that matters. Please realize that life isn't just about those objects you mentioned (although food is very important!), but making the whole world better is our duty, not just our little part...

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

        • identicon
          DanC, 28 Feb 2009 @ 1:20am

          Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

          I'm sorry I own no other human a damn thing, and if they want to benefit from my hard labor and work then they can pay for it, or die while I benefit...

          But that's not what the article is talking about Michial. As per usual, you've embarked on your anti-Techdirt crusade without bothering to understand the issue.

          If you are paid for your hard labor and work, it's perfectly acceptable for the person who paid you to inspect, evaluate, and test your results.

          So why is it not ok for researchers to effectively do the same thing?

          that means to me a bigger house, a nicer car, better food etc

          So you're interested in better food, but unwilling to allow independent researchers to test the next wave of genetically modified seeds and crops because of overly restrictive intellectual property claims.

          Could you please provide an argument that actually makes sense?

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

    • identicon
      Matt, 27 Feb 2009 @ 4:38am

      Re: What gives you the right

      so who says that academic researchers are ripping anyone off? Did you ever think they might be doing some research, and as scholarly individuals, they need to be able to do more than just look at the seed with their naked eyes?

      that whole "shut up and take it" business model doesn't tend to work, in general.

      Oh, and the best part: you really can't stop someone from reverse engineering anything. It just might not be legal. That doesn't mean there aren't ways around it, by reverse engineering in secret and coming up with something non-infringing. It is for this reason people were jailbreaking phones prior to it being allowed.

      Meanwhile, who said reverse engineering has anything to do with the context of this case?

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

    • identicon
      eleete, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:04am

      Re: What gives you the right

      Ya know.....
      Those of us who are against IP laws are not as awful as you attempt to portray. If you would stop to think about it for one moment you might realize something fair. None of us here want it for our own little selfish reasons. IF IP were more lax, ALL people would feel free to do with the research what they wished. What that REALLY means is that we would ALL be free to use that research. AND THAT COMPANY, would be free to use all other research as well. Instead of seeing the world through your little peephole, try looking at the bigger picture.

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

      • identicon
        Michial, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:25am

        Re: Re: What gives you the right

        eleete;

        Those of you against IP laws use the "its better for all of us arguement" all the time. It would also be better for "all of us" if the government steped into your life and took all you assets and spread it around the neighborhood too. But I am sure you would be first in line to protect your assets right?

        The ONLY ones to benefit from the lack of IP laws are those without the talent, money and resources to do the research/work on their own.

        If you are sincere in your desires, then spread share your 401k, the equity in your house, and any other liquid assets you might have with all your neighbors. Until all of you are willing to do that I will stick with keeping the IP laws in place.

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

        • identicon
          eleete, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:58am

          Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

          Ahhh the ole strawman is looking for a brain.... You see intellectual property as scarce whereas the truth is, it is infinite. Taking my couch leaves me without one. Taking my research while I take yours means we both, have both. it is a completely illogical argument. However, I will say that I want IP laws abolished. You want them to be more strict. I realize that a compromise is necessary where you won't compromise. If IP weren't for such a long time things would fall into the PUBLIC DOMAIN gracefully. The way it was intended to be. Let Thomas Jefferson teach you something about invention and IP


          He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody.

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

        • identicon
          Eric the Green, 27 Feb 2009 @ 8:01am

          Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

          What gives you the right to be such a misguided, selfish narcissist? There's this thing called "the greater good" and another thing called "humanity." Both of those are far more important than you or your insignificant little part of the planet.

          I'd spend more time on this, but your head is so far up your ass that it really isn't worth the time. You're just a self-centered, conceited, misinformed, narcissistic, close-minded, brainless jackass. eleete has explained it for you nicely.

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

        • identicon
          Pjerky, 27 Feb 2009 @ 8:18am

          Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

          Now hold on just one minute Bubba. While I understand the talent aspect of your complaint I think your talk about those with the available money and resources is complete horse sh*t. First of all that is a VERY elitist attitude. Plenty of people with amazing ideas and inventions don't have the money and resources to market their ideas so instead of letting them go to waste they freely spread their knowledge to others in hope that it improves things for all of humanity.

          What you are talking about is hording knowledge because you have the money and resources to. Not only is that just wrong, but it is irresponsible. I have a question for you, who are you paying for the invention of spoken words? What about the discovery of fire or the wheel? Electricity? Your idea suggests that everyone that comes up with a good idea or invention should protect it and hide it from everyone else until they can milk as much money as possible out of them.

          ALL of humanity is built of the discoveries, knowledge, and inventions of humans that have come before us. And just because you discovered or created it first doesn't mean that someone else would not have if you didn't exist. It would have just happened at a different time. For you to stifle the spread of knowledge and discovery just to line your pockets is despicable and disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself.

          Now I am not saying don't make money from what you do. Far from it. Being the first to discover/create something gives you a head start and a chance to use it better and quicker than others and offer services and products based off of your early knowledge and your mounting experience from it. If you instead don't want to produce anything directly from it then hold seminars and teaching sessions to explain what and how you found/created it. You can charge for your time and effort to teach them. That is fine.

          But for you to simply block the propagation of knowledge to make sure you get a slice of money is just greedy.

          Peace
          -Pjerky

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          • identicon
            eleete, 27 Feb 2009 @ 8:26am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

            In addition to all those great points, sometimes the Government (ya know, We The People) provide Grants and loans for research. I guess ALLLLL those people should just walk away from that cash, 'screw off' and pay whatever the likes of michial would have them to for as long as he possibly can.

            I have yet to see the comment that tells the horrors of having things falling into the Public Domain. I now issue the challenge. Please, oh Please tell me the horror stories of things being in the Public Domain as opposed to a single entity (human or corporation) having a complete Monopoly on an item, song, movie, book.....

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

        • identicon
          eleete, 27 Feb 2009 @ 8:37am

          Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

          The ONLY ones to benefit from the lack of IP laws are those without the talent, money and resources to do the research/work on their own.

          I have already posed one challenge to you, but here is another. Since your 'invention/research' is so unique, so unheard of, created in complete isolation, with ZERO previous works being used. Please give one example of a modern (modern being still under protection) work (anything IP) that was completely independent from all preexisting works.

          Since you think your talents are so extreme, why not let us know of a single work that is not derivative to some degree.

          It would help you to learn the concept of standing on the shoulders of giants. Right now we stand on the shoulders of ants.

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

        • identicon
          DanC, 28 Feb 2009 @ 1:25am

          Re: Re: Re: What gives you the right

          The ONLY ones to benefit from the lack of IP laws are those without the talent, money and resources to do the research/work on their own.

          And you have plenty of research to back up this extraordinary claim?

          If you are sincere in your desires, then spread share your 401k, the equity in your house, and any other liquid assets you might have with all your neighbors.

          Apparently Michial still refuses to understand the natural differences between scarce and non-scarce resources, which is why he sees no problem with his absurd request.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:06am

      Re: What gives you the right

      Because heaven forbid someone comes in behind this company and discovers that they're genetically engineered plant would wipe out a local ecosystem. Or is easily mutated into producing a natural toxin. Or any other things that can go wrong.

      It's not always about stealing. Sometimes it really is about making sure the blood sucking corperations aren't shoving poison down your throat while smiling and taking your money.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:27am

      Re: What gives you the right

      screw you!

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

    • identicon
      Michial Basher, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:29am

      Re: What gives you the right

      I will try to use small words so your tiny little brain will understand.

      The schools in question are researching the EFFECTS of the bio-engineered crops. They are conducting third party, unbiased evaluations on the long term use of bio-engineered seeds and crops.

      The companies are preventing this from doing this by playing the IP card. Which begs the question... what are they afraid the schools will find out?

      This has nothing to do with reverse engineering. This has everything to do with someone (besides the company making the products) to give a REAL evaluation of the long term effects of these crops on humans, animals and the environment.

      So take your tiny brain and shove it up your enormously large arse.

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

    • identicon
      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), 27 Feb 2009 @ 11:36am

      Re: What gives you the right

      When public universities are using my tax dollars to perform research for these private firms then yes, I think I do have the right. I used to work doing ag research at a university and we would perform variety trials on different seed types. In most cases, the company would donate the seed. At the end of the trial all my work, data, and reports were given to the company for their use to promote their product.

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

    • identicon
      Azrael, 28 Feb 2009 @ 9:04am

      Re: What gives you the right

      " What gives you the right to reverse engineer this companies work just so you can rip them off? "
      The right to create a better product.

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

  • icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), 27 Feb 2009 @ 5:23am

    Right of First Sale

    Whatever happened to the right of first sale here?
    Some judge messed up somewhere allow this crap to happen.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2009 @ 5:59am

    This is the natural evolution of patents. When patenting shifted from inventive incentive to protecting interests and investments, this sort of step was inevitable.

    People don't want to just patent, they want to completely own everything associated with their invention so that any profit has to come back through them.

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

  • identicon
    Wolfy, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:52am

    Re: What gives you the right
    by Michial Basher - Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:29am

    Took the thought right out of my head, but stated more eloquently than I would have been able! Thanks!

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

  • identicon
    Wolfy, 27 Feb 2009 @ 6:58am

    And on a related note, Genetically Modified plant genes (I believe they were GMed corn) have been discovered to have "escaped" into the non-GMed plant population BEFORE it's various side-effects could be properly studied BECAUSE of the Corp. IP policies restricting said studies. Now the "horses are out of the barn" and we bloody well better hope that they are benign.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2009 @ 7:31am

    Since these seem to be primarily land grand research institutions, it seems ashame I have not read any articles suggesting their "cousel" are even aware of two important legal doctrines:

    State "severeign immunity".

    "Patent misuse" as it pertains to limitations outside the scope of the rights granted under US patent law.

    The first and second are quite pertinent to research institutions that are an arm of state government, whereas the second is quite pertinent to all other research endeavors.

    Their time would be well spent reading case law and then mulling over how it may be used beneficially in these types of situations.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2009 @ 8:12am

      Re:

      And how do these legal doctrines apply here? Exactly which of those legal doctrines gives these companies, or any company, the right to put untested and unverified products into the food chain, without oversight, simply to protect their intellectual property?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2009 @ 9:50am

        Re: Re:

        State "sovereign immunity" means that a state (or an arm of the state) cannot be sued for patent infringement unless the state expressly agrees to waive its immunity. Obviously, if a state is asserting that a third party is infringing a patent held by the state and brings suit, the state is deemed to have waived its immunity. However, when the shoe is on the other foot and a private party tries to assert its patent against a state, that state can generally hide behind its immunity shield and thumb its nose at the patent holder. Bear in mind this is a general description, and not a detailed discourse on the law of sovereign immunity.

        "Patent misuse" is a legal doctrine that in certain circumstances can be employed to prevent a patent holder from enforcing his/her/its patent. In fact, it presents an opportunity for the patent to be "dissolved". The precipitating factor is typically a patentee using the patent in such a manner that it is operating outside of the specific rights associated with a patent (i.e., make, use, sell, offer to sell, and import). While this is a very difficult case to make by an alleged infringer, if circumstances are present that the rights conferred by patents are being extended into other areas not covered by such rights, then it at least bears investigation and research by counsel.

        I did not mention it above, but there is, of course, also the possibility that a persuasive argument can be made that the "first sale" doctrine may apply. See, for example, the recent case of LG v. Quanta decided by the Supreme Court.

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

  • identicon
    anymouse, 27 Feb 2009 @ 8:40am

    Genetically modified addictive crops, with nobody able to 'research' them.....

    It hasn't happened yet (that I know of), but what's to prevent a company from creating a genetically modified version of corn or beans that has highly addictive properties? If nobody else is allowed to even research their genetically modified crops, how do we really know what they are modifying them for?

    Companies talk about making better, healthier crops that can produce more food with less resources, but what company wouldn't want a desirable crop (Corn, Beans, Potatoes, etc) with addictive properties as well? Look at tobacco, our founding fathers smoked tobacco because it had mood enhancing chemicals (psychoactive?) that made them feel "really good" (why do you think they dressed up in wigs and pranced around in petticoats?). It also had one little drawback, the nicotine was highly addictive, so they enjoyed getting high while at the same time they became addicted. Corporations took over and eliminated the psychoactive properties but left the highly addictive nicotine in, and look what happened....

    People today smoke not for a 'high' but more out of habit, once they are addicted to the nicotine, it's very difficult to quit, your body wants more of the drug, and people continue to smoke even when they know that it's killing them (is it still 11 minutes off your life per cigarette?).

    What's going to happen when a company makes a genetically modified crop that contains addictive properties (either intentionally or by accident)? Hopefully they won't package it in a method that kills their customers, but I wouldn't hold my breath (look at how long the tobacco companies tried to deny what they were doing... making billions by killing their customers with an addictive product that no longer contains any of the psychoactive properties that caused our 'founding fathers' to smoke the 'wacky tabacky' in the first place.

    Yes, I think my tinfoil hat fell off and those darn HULU aliens used a mellon baller on brain this morning....

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

    • identicon
      eleete, 27 Feb 2009 @ 8:45am

      Re: Genetically modified addictive crops, with nobody able to 'research' them.....

      "(why do you think they dressed up in wigs and pranced around in petticoats?)"

      Rich, not rich like in cash. Rich like in I laughed my ass off.

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

  • identicon
    angry dude, 27 Feb 2009 @ 9:02am

    f***ing techdirt punks

    Mikey, how is your business of "consulting" tech companies doing these days ?
    Not too good ?

    So you have more time on your hands to write bullshit here

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

    • identicon
      eleete, 27 Feb 2009 @ 9:11am

      Re: f***ing techdirt punks

      That subject line is mighty interesting, is that a fantasy of yours ? If so I'd like to volunteer michial.

      Otherwise, your comment is quite insightful, you hate all the people of techdirt and are concerned about Mikes business. Yet you continuously visit us all. HI AC !!!! Hows your business doin? 'Well Bryan, looks like your not doing any business'. But we see you want to be doing techdirt readers. Enjoy those fantasy's.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2009 @ 9:29am

      Re: f***ing techdirt punks

      You aren't worth the saliva it would take to spit on your rotting corpse.

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

    • identicon
      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), 27 Feb 2009 @ 11:53am

      Re: f***ing techdirt punks

      angry dude!? Is that really you!? Your business must have been booming because I haven't seen any of your contributions (I use the term extremely lightly) to the techdirt site in a while. Now let me refute some of your arguments...oh wait, there weren't any. Business as usual.

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

  • identicon
    MidwestIP, 3 Mar 2009 @ 9:42am

    Wrong argument

    The problem isn't that the seed companies obtained patents on their inventions. The problem as posed in the post is that the licenses are overly broad. I guess it's just easier to blame the entire patent system as unfair. Or at least that fits in better with the theme of this blog.

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


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