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03/29/2005 Archived Entry: ""

Tho' I am writer, I also solidly oppose intellectual property 'rights' -- copyright and patent -- that are derived from government rather than from free market mechanisms, such as contract. [For a discussion of this issue set in historial context, please see my essay "Copyright and Patent in Liberty".] Thanks to Steve C. for sending me the following 'heads-up' on the patenting of medical information, which could deleteriously impact the advice we receive from doctors....

NEW YORK -- The Public Patent Foundation ("PUBPAT") released a position statement today arguing against the issuance of patents on medical facts that prevent doctors from using those facts to treat their patients or discuss those facts with colleagues. The issue stems from a case that involves a patent granted by the U.S. Patent Office on diagnosing B12 or folic acid deficiency, which can cause serious human illnesses such as cancer and vascular disease, simply by knowing if a patient has an elevated homocysteine level. It is a matter of natural biology that whether someone has a B12 or folic acid insufficiency is related to whether they have a high level of homocysteine, because homocysteine is an amino acid metabolized by B12 and folic acid. Lower courts ruled that doctors who use or discuss the relationship between B12 or folic acid and homocysteine committed illegal patent infringement and the Supreme Court is now deciding whether to hear an appeal of the case. For full commentary, click here.

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