GENTECH archive


Re: patentability

> Date:          Tue, 15 Jun 1999 17:59:23 +0200 (MET DST)
> From:          Herve LE MEUR <>
> Reply-to:      Herve LE MEUR <>
> Subject:       patentability
> To:  ,

> Austin Tanney said :
> >Generally it is not the organism that is patented, it is the gene 
> >construct and method of transfection which is patented rather than 
> >the organism itself. 
> I think it is false. Even some organs can be patented if separated from
> the human body. but also animals (chimers).
It is not false. You cannot patent animals, only the genetic 

> you surely already saw the problems triggered by patenting of a bacterium
> that is involved in an important disease.

No I am not aware of this and would appreciate it if you would 
forward me on any info you have on this.
> So, at least bacteria also can be patented.
Yes... But with great difficulty. Since the Chakrabarty case in the 
70's when a bacteria was patented, it has been very difficult to 
patent a bacteria and again, it is the ene construct and not the 
organism which is usually patented.
> May I know why you want to diminish the possibilities of patenting ?

May I know why you are so against it??? To me your arguement does not 
stand up to scrutiny. Without patenting there would be no small 
companies. Biotechnology would be ENTIRELY controled by big companies 
such as monsanto, and lets face it, would anyone like that? Small 
companies can only exist if they can protect their intellectual 
property, if it was not protected then they would simply be exploited 
by the big companies. Also, it is important to remember that a patent 
is a negative right. It does not allow you to do anything, it simply 
grants you the legal ability to prevent someone else from doing it. 
This means that big companies cannot "steal" you ideas/technology. On 
the other hand the format of a patent supplies enabling information 
allowing public or acamdemic research to use the techniques in 
research, just not for commercial gain.

> >If the intellectual property for 
> >production of rec. proteins and other bioactive substances is not 
> >patent protected most of these would not come to production.

> No.
> please look for archives of Gentech. you try to promote a system
> that proves itself, starting from its own assumptions but not proving right.
> one example : When the Curie's have discovered the effects of
> radioactivity for medecine, they REFUSED to patent so as to promote
> the use of this technique. andf it worked. OK, they did not get rich.
> but we got cured.
> You start from the assumption that only large firms can do research.
> And, some of proponents regret (after) that only large firms control
> the system.(see after for an example in your own e-mail).

You misunderstand.....
The curies didnot patent their work, in fact I don't know if they 
could have. However the compaqnies which now produce X-ray and 
Radiography machines have Patented the machines. Without the 
companies patenting their ideas the machines simply would not have 
been produced. It is not the research that is patented but the 
product or procedure developed. I think you are simply overestimating 
what a patent is.

> >Without 
> >venture capital most of these products would not exist
> I proved above that, at least as stated, it is false


> Except that I would favor a "liberal" approach : limiting the size of any 
> firm to 5% of the Amount of richness produced by a whole country (so it
> would depend of the country)
> This would prohibit Monsanto to act in so small countries that buying 
> a minister is as cheap as buying a simple civil servant.

As I said, patenting allows small companies to exist.... and I don't 
see what is liberal about stopping companies from growing. On the 
other hand without patents, only big comanies would exist, simply 
fueling the fire of the problem.

I mean no offence Herve. I simply think that you appear (from your 
arguement) to misunderstand the advantages of patening. You seem to 
think it favours big companies taking over the world, when 
realistically it is through the patenting of ideas that small 
companies flourish therefore restricting the monopoly of big 
companies within the biotech industry..