Category: Patents

Crowley on Gene Patents

Posted by Andrew on August 2nd, 2006
Michael Crowley

From Michael Crowley's column in the August 2006 Reader's Digest, some well-intentioned misinformation about gene patents:

It may sound bizarre, but it's true: A company can actually "own" human genes. That's the brave new world of gene patents, where big biotech firms are claiming rights to our genetic blueprints and guarding them with teams of lawyers....

A gene patent does not confer "ownership" over human genes or any other substance.  It confers a right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, and importing whatever is claimed in the patent.

Gene patents aren't remotely a "brave new world" by the standards of the modern news cycle.  The Supreme Court's Chakrabarty decision, which opened the door to biotech patents, was issued in 1980, and DNA patents were on the scene by 1982.

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Silencing Speakers (But Amplifying Libraries)

Posted by Andrew on July 25th, 2006

Volokh and First Amendment Legal Fictions

Library shelvesA followup of sorts to yesterday's post. In linking to UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh's 1995 article "Cheap Speech and What It Will Do" as an example of "sanguine claims about the Web leveling the playing field among speakers," I was more dismissive of the piece than I had intended. I remember hearing much more grandiose claims about the Internet's essential egalitarianism being made in the mass media circa 1996. While Volokh does ultimately side with the libertarian view that the Internet will bring about a vastly different and more egalitarian "new media order," his claims are more nuanced than other examples I had in mind but could not reference yesterday. So Volokh's article merits further discussion here.

In many respects, "Cheap Speech" has been brilliantly prescient. A market for online sales of recorded music has indeed emerged (even though the price of an album has not yet fallen to the "$3 to $5" level, possibly because of price-fixing). And a "thriving electronic opinion column market" has emerged in the blogosphere, with "tens of thousands of people" stepping forward to write "informative, readable prose" for free.

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An examination of the legal and technological structures that keep almost all of us voiceless, by Prof. Andrew Chin (who?) at the University of North Carolina School of Law and Prof. Jay Kesan at the University of Illinois College of Law

voiceless is a new blog. If you like what you've seen so far, please consider making voiceless a little less voiceless by adding a link to it from your blogroll!

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