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A Dispassionate Look at Gene Patenting

The Financial Times did what it does best yet again, injecting a dispassionate tone into the gene patenting debate, according to Patent Docs' Kevin Noonan. The FT article, written by Duke Law School professor James Boyle argues that gene patents are necessary to spur biotech growth, and that opponents of gene patenting are arguing from a "moral" point of view, "protesting the hubris and in some eyes, heresy, of claiming to own the human genome." But while Noonan praises the article's "evenhanded" tone, he says it misses the point somewhat. "The piece suffers from the common misconception that genetic information is patented (Judge Sweet's view), rather than isolated nucleic acids themselves as chemical compounds (which, despite Judge Dyks' recent pronouncements, has been the Federal Circuit's view)," Noonan says. And while Boyle says the recent news of the Alzheimer's Disease Initiative shows that scientists can work together without worrying about patents on any discoveries they might make, Noonan argues that though the Initiative was commendable in its cooperative nature, the research was unlikely to lead to any patentable material in the first place.