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Stem Cell Research Running Into IP Brick Walls 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-my-patent-on-cell-division-to-come-through dept.
hlovy writes "The profit motive can — yes, shockingly — drive biotech research. But, according to a report by the AFP news agency, this same drive to make money is actually putting the brakes on embryonic stem cell research. With the research already set back years due to government research bans, US scientists now face roadblocks because other universities or companies have secured exclusive rights."
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Stem Cell Research Running Into IP Brick Walls

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  • See? Preemptively banning technology or research without full, neutral investigation of it's utility/results is stupid.

    And I sincerely believe this will not be the last time politicians hinder innovation in the U.S., which makes me really, really sad. As long as politicians let petty religious bias and corporate corruption control their sway, the citizens of this country will suffer.
    • The biases only deal with embryonic stem cell research, which is but a subset of all types of stem cell research. For the record, I don't think you need a religious bias to object to embryo farming or similar (since this is /., we are allowed/required to carry out what-could-happen as far as possible)

      Much more important than a petty political point is pointing out that exclusivity contracts in medical research are stupid. We should be attempting to advance as quickly as humanly and ethically possible in the
      • by spun (1352)

        Why do you think that embryonic stem cell research will lead to embryo farming, and why is simply banning embryo farming itself not sufficient to solve the problem?

        • Embryo farming is already illegal.

          The *only* way embryonic stem cells can be sourced is from left over in-vitro fertilization work.

          • ...sorry... --or from passing/growing of established embryonic stem cell lines that have been around for 20-ish years.

      • by flaming error (1041742) on Friday January 28, 2011 @05:52PM (#35038302) Journal

        > exclusivity contracts in medical research are stupid.
        I don't think that's exactly the problem. The article is about patents.

        Lots of people have problems with biotech patents because it seems immoral to patent a life form.

        I sympathize with that view, but in my opinion DNA is software. On patenting software I like Donald Knuth's view, that software is math and it makes no sense to patent math.

        • by joocemann (1273720) on Friday January 28, 2011 @06:23PM (#35038654)

          Yes, but James Thompson, the man who patented the embryonic stem cell, has not patented any novel DNA or idea. He patented something he didn't invent nor engineer; he patented something he had nothing to do with aside from observation, and only won because our patent system is so out of date it doesn't know how to address life forms, and that he was the first person to try to.

          This same jerkoff (or is it the patent system that's wrong here) charges you $200k licensing per year to do any biomedical research with it, and $5k a year for universities to license simply to do any academic research at all.

          Nothing about the patent is worthy of a patent. On the contrary, Yamanaka's Induced Pluripotent Stem cell work is patentable, as he has invented novel ways to revert differentiated cells to stemness. Sheng Ding has also pioneered new methods that don't include lentiviral methods (like Yamanaka), and instead use small molecules that are homologous to the desired IPSC-inducing biochemicals (Sox2, nanog, oct4, etc).

          To offer some contrast: if Yamanaka were like Thompson, he could have patented the IDEA of 'reverting differentiated cells to stem-like cells exhibiting stemness". And in doing so he would be able to cover with his patent that which Ding has done, despite Ding having his own method. But I'm sure nearly every democratic voter here would agree that Yamanaka and Ding have achieved the same end by different means, and thus would each have patents to their methodology.

          Fortunately, IPSC are *NOT* ESC, and so for now people can do stem-cell research without paying the JT tax simply because JT was 'first'.

          • by WorBlux (1751716)
            Right scientific, industrial, and computing methods are very precise, but patents are written very broadly. The only people winning are the lawyers and patent trolls.
        • by eddeye (85134)

          On patenting software I like Donald Knuth's view, that software is math and it makes no sense to patent math.

          Software is "just math" in exactly the same way math is "just numbers". Which is not at all. Software is a complex set of instructions that performs electronic work. Just like a physical machine is a complex set of parts that performs mechanical work. Only an average software program is orders of magnitude more complex (more moving parts, if you will) than the most complicated physical machine.

    • What would suddenly make politicians resistant to pettiness, bias and corruption for the first time in history?

      Rule of thumb: Only let politicians make decisions where it doesn't matter if that's what's controlling them. Reserve the rest of the decisions for individuals. Reform will ebb and flow, it will look more chaotic and piecemeal, but on average you'll get the better end result sooner.

    • Preemptively banning technology or research without full, neutral investigation of it's utility/results is stupid.

      Of course, noone banned either research or technology in the case of stem cell research. Or even of embryonic stem cell research.

      Refusal to pay for something is not actually the same thing as banning it.

  • I could argue that the exact same situation holds true in the world of software and mobile devices (especially UI) worlds. The key difference is that these stem cell companies are all suing each other up front. What are they thinking? That's the honorable way to conduct yourself when you hold intellectual property but certainly not the most profitable. Haven't they learned that you're supposed to wait until an infringing product is sold the world over with their highest stock price in years before you start the license extortion/lawsuit?
  • by ShooterNeo (555040) on Friday January 28, 2011 @04:57PM (#35037628)

    The way IP SHOULD work is this : first of all, compulsory licensing. If you patent any idea, or ask for government protection against unauthorized people who pirate or create a knockoff of your product, then you MUST

    1. Offer terms for a license to the technology, with rates proportional to the industry and the value of the product
    2. Provide the technical details needed for someone else who licenses your idea to begin work within 30 days of payment of initial fees for licensing.

    • The way IP SHOULD work is this:

      1. Inventor applies for a patent
      2. Inventor hangs patent on wall
      3. Everyone else continues as before

      I used to be pro-patent, but I feel that the incentive to get a patent (i.e. invent something) is outweighed by the incentive to hire lawyers and sue all those who use the idea.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        IP is a contradictory position to hold. The argument from effect is its own topic(which I also would say doesn't do what IP advocates think it does for reasons given here mises.org/books/against.pdf) but ignoring that for a moment, it isn't even a logically consistent idea at all; namely, it advocates violating property in the name of protecting that which is not actually property.

        If I make some software, or write a book or whatever, I absolutely wouldn't like my work to be copied and sold. This is not what

    • Proportional to which value? Patents are a temporary barrier to entry that give inventors a head start as an incentive to toil away. Compulsory licensing reduces the incentive. With infinite competition, the value is the marginal cost. With no competition, the value is the price that maximizes "monopoly rents." As a result, licensing diminishes value.
      • I don't know. But if I, say, invent a new algorithm for engine control that lets a car save 1% on gas...I couldn't demand a $10,000 per car license fee. The fee has to be less than 100% of the value added by the invention itself. How much is 1% better gas mileage worth vs. the sale price of a car? It is possible to estimate that.

      • I like the first mover advantage better.
      • by sjames (1099)

        Rent seeking is harmful to the economy and society. He didn't say compulsory FREE licensing, so you get to make a fair sum for your labor.

    • by rallen911 (714705)

      Why SHOULD I be forced to license IP that I created, let alone provide technical details to allow others to use it? It's my idea! If I decide to protect it, then I should be protected. I can decide to license it, but if I don't, nobody else should be able to profit from it.

      If there is protected IP that you want to use, then you might actually be forced to come up with your own idea. Would you want to be forced to share that new idea and help your competition drive you out of business? Not likely!

      If you

      • by Korin43 (881732)

        Why SHOULD I be forced to license IP that I created, let alone provide technical details to allow others to use it? It's my idea! If I decide to protect it, then I should be protected. I can decide to license it, but if I don't, nobody else should be able to profit from it.

        If there is protected IP that you want to use, then you might actually be forced to come up with your own idea. Would you want to be forced to share that new idea and help your competition drive you out of business? Not likely!

        If you remove the incentive for the creation of new ideas, i.e. money, then you will get less of that. This is another case of people not thinking things through to the end.

        Why should you get patent protection from the government? The idea that you have some sort of right to stop other people from doing anything that you thought of first is just plain stupid.

        The point of a patent is that you get protection in exchange for sharing your idea, and the argument against it is that that protection is frequently more valuable than sharing the idea (so it's a bad trade for the government to make).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Why should we enforce an artificial monopoly on your idea for your exclusive benefit if you would refuse to license it at reasonable prices enough to benefit society?

        Few people would say that innovators should not be rewarded for their innovation, but when those rewards stifle future innovation, then clearly theres a problem. Perhaps patents should only be protected when the invention is licensed at reasonable prices (there is probably a reasonable supply-demand estimation of this value).

        Further more, the b

    • That's a really good idea.
    • And of course, if you want to patent any idea, it should be, um, worthy of a friggin' patent first!

      These laws are so stupid and fucking pointless that it's clear that they don't serve their original purpose anymore. Is the US ever gonna see any reform in this area? No? Well then you get what you ask for: gradually falling behind....

    • Discoveries should never be patentable.
      Consider them "naturally occurring prior art" if you like. They're already well and truly the "public domain". When you discover something, then although the dicovery might be new, what you have dicovered is not. It always was there for anyone and everyone to use. To suddenly claim that from now on, only you're allowed to use it and nobody else, is absurd.
      Note: There's nothing to stop you from keeping it secret until you've worked out a way to capitalise on it.
  • by mykos (1627575) on Friday January 28, 2011 @05:04PM (#35037716)
    Bury the real scientists in a mountain of FUD.

    Make great advancements, but don't pursue them unless they produce a profit.

    While you're not using those advancements, be sure to sue everyone who stumbles upon what you stumbled upon first.
  • University researchers should be exempt by law from paying patent royalties/licenses.

    Period.

    • by Biggseye (1520195)
      wrong. As long as they get a single dollar from the Government or private sources, they should have to patent it to claim exclusive right and pay just like every one else does, no exemptions
    • FYI, Thompson charges universities a $5k/year licensing fee to reaserach ESC.

  • ah yes. way to go American government. lets send another industry that could create jobs and money for the country elsewhere because of our ridiculous laws due to money backed lobbyists.
  • For the last time (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 28, 2011 @05:07PM (#35037750)

    It wasn't banned, it just wasn't funded by government. Stem cell research was welcome to continue, just not using government money.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      It says "government research bans". Which surely means "bans on research done by government" or "bans on research with government resources". Otherwise it would just be "research bans". Parsing "government research bans" is "research bans placed by the government" seems silly since who else can ban it in the first place?

    • Almost any research for stem-cell studies are going to be at least, in part, funded by the government. Every university that does research falls under that 'government money' umbrella. It's not like we can depend on the pharmaceutical industry to do the right thing -- that's what this entire story is about.

      If I were a researcher I would ignore the IP claims and fight it in court. A precedent needs to be set to prevent patents in regards to stem cell research. Patent some tool you've constructed for your lab

    • I'm doing this from memory, in a rush, so feel free to correct:

      Saying that "it just wasn't funded by government" is actually less accurate than saying "it was banned". Doing embryonic stem cell research (outside of certain preexisting lines) meant that an organization was banned from almost all government funding, even for completely unrelated matters - and the Supreme Court has found that kind of thing to be a punishment. So the research was banned in every relevant sense, it's just that the punishment

  • quite simply should be cancelled and banned. If some pharma company actually INVENTS some new gene that CANNOT occur due to natural mutation then fine, but when it occurs naturally ANYWHERE in nature then nobody should have the right to patent it. Clearly it was NOT their invention and discoveries and inventions are very different things. Patents on "business methods" and software should also be blanket cancelled and forbidden, the first because it's a ridiculous concept and the second because software is
    • If some pharma company actually INVENTS some new gene that CANNOT occur due to natural mutation then fine, but when it occurs naturally ANYWHERE in nature then nobody should have the right to patent it.

      Ah, so you have no problem with these patents, then? They're on isolated genes that CANNOT occur naturally.

      Patents on "business methods" and software should also be blanket cancelled and forbidden, the first because it's a ridiculous concept and the second because software is a written work and already covered by copyright law. Neither is a physical innovation, which is what patents were supposed to cover. ... then what exactly do you think was meant by the word "process" in when Congress wrote "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title"?

  • This is just one more field where current patent and copyright law hinders innovation. You cannot have a monopoly and pretend other people to innovate. Unless something change, the US future in science and technology is going to be crippled in the next couple of decades because of the overprotective nature of the current IP laws. As a side note, the idea that a company can be innovative while having profit as its ultimate objective is sorely misguided.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Good news then.

      The moment it seriously impedes profit for large business, it will change.

  • Polio Vaccine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday January 28, 2011 @05:09PM (#35037794)

    Jonas Salk [wikipedia.org] refused to patent the polio vaccine.. When he was asked in a televised interview who owned the patent to the vaccine, Salk replied: "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

    There is no 'greater good' research anymore, as long as people get their $. Capitalism: A Love Story [imdb.com] is an interesting movie. Yes, it is Michael Moore, but if you go in expecting some slant it's entertaining to see how stuff has changed from "I'm not going to patent something that saved people from the Iron Lung" to "Screw you guys, I gotta get my patents".

    • by Biggseye (1520195)
      horse crap. the polio vaccine was developed as a profit making venture. "the greater good" is serviced by capitalism having the incentive to make a profit while helping others. I was alive then I know what happened,
      • "the greater good" is serviced by capitalism having the incentive to make a profit while helping others.

        Sigh, the libertarians come out again. Just as it would be foolish to suggest that nothing "greater good" can come out of capitalism, it's just as backwards to think capitalism is the only approach to the greater good. Capitalism is simply one approach to allocating resources. Nothing more, nothing less. Under certain circumstances, capitalism may be the most efficient system we know of for allocating resources, but in many cases it is not.

        As such, the only good that capitalism appears able to accomplish is

    • Could you patent the sun?"

      Please, do not give the patent trolls any ideas; they will try to patent this. "A method and process of using a massive hydrogen celestial body to generate energy with hydrogen to helium fusion."

      Back to the polio and Jonas Salk, a neighbor of mine when I was a child had caught it as a teenager, and spent most of his life on crutches. He had a PhD in physics and worked at RCA's David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton. He spoke very highly of Jonas Salk, and the fact that a lot of folks would be spared

    • The trouble is that selfish individuals will then take advantage of that .. Jonas Salk refuses to patent the polio vaccine? I'll patent it and sue him for a 'clear' breach of my invention.

      Sure, the 'prior invention' conditions should prevent this, but you can just DOS the patent offices by issuing requests for the most trivial things to prevent them from examining things in too much detail.

      The system doesn't punish patent grabbing, it encourages it in fact, so you have to get patents for defensive pur
    • But the situation is different today. Universities need the income from products developed within their research facilities. Better it goes there than to some greedy capitalists, no? If it happens to save human lives, somehow no one should profit from it?
      • by bit01 (644603)

        If it happens to save human lives, somehow no one should profit from it?

        No artificial scarcity actually. It is beyond stupid that 6,900,000,000 people [census.gov] should be blocked from doing something life saving so that one tiny group can have increased profit.

        Not to mention many university researchers double-dipping and generally acting quite dishonestly, being precisely the greedy capitalists and attention whores you imply they are not.

        ---

        Copyright rewards distributors (copiers) far more than creators.

  • I thought the whole point of the patent system was that the Inventions became public knowledge, such that inventors (and researchers) *could* in fact, learn from them and improve on them.

    Of course, if a researcher did make a breakthrough, actually bringing a product to market would require co-operation with the original patent holder for licensing / cross-licensing, but that is not a barrier to research.

    • I thought the whole point of the patent system was that the Inventions became public knowledge, such that inventors (and researchers) *could* in fact, learn from them and improve on them.

      Of course, if a researcher did make a breakthrough, actually bringing a product to market would require co-operation with the original patent holder for licensing / cross-licensing, but that is not a barrier to research.

      Yep. Plus, if you read the article, the guy complaining about it isn't complaining that he can't get a license or do further research... He's complaining that he can't make as much money for his investors on it.

      • by suutar (1860506)
        You mean the article containing these two paragraphs?

        Lanza recalls bumping up against his company's main competitor, Geron Corporation, when it came to researching stem cells in reversing diabetes, a process he said he had been working on with animals for many years.

        "When I came to ACT to try to do it with stem cells I couldn't because the rights to use embryonic stem cells for diabetes had been exclusively licensed to Geron," he said.

    • by whoever57 (658626)

      I thought the whole point of the patent system was that the Inventions became public knowledge, such that inventors (and researchers) *could* in fact, learn from them and improve on them.

      That may have been the idea at one time, but the moronic "triple damages for wilful infringement" means that researchers effectively can't use the patent datatbase, lest they turn a normal infringement into a wilful infringement.

  • Imagine, Researchers not getting their own way, first that mean bunch of Conservative think the people of the US should not have to pay for them trying to play god. Then, Goodness they have to compete for private funds; gasp!!! Then the people that did invest want ownership of the results; the savages. Lest be completely honest about this. Most organizations that do medical research live off of government money, they think they know better then everyone else. They cry and cry when they do not get their ow
  • Projects which accept federal grant money should require their products [patents, papers, etc.] to be placed in the public domain.

    I'm not particularly happy with private companies patenting stem cell research, but if they're patenting actual functioning procedures, then I might rescind my objections.

    "When I came to ACT to try to do it with stem cells I couldn't because the rights to use embryonic stem cells for diabetes had been exclusively licensed to Geron," he said."

    I hope that this is a poorly worded qu

  • Our screwed up system here in the U.S. will only serve to send more and more scientists overseas to work where they can be free of this type of insanity.

    I know that if I was a 25 year old who had a degree in biology or engineering, I'd make a bee-line to Asia. The insanity concerning IP, copyrights, non-disclosure contracts, and on and on, plus the impossibility to finding work in the U.S. right now. There's so much red tape to do anything in this country now that everyone simply has lost the will to do a

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrietta_Lacks [wikipedia.org]

    I wonder what rights the descendants of this woman have in regards to all of this IP bullshit? Could they not simply claim rights and then allow full use by all? A global free-licensing, so to speak?

    Without this woman and her wonderful cells, none of this research would be happening. None.

    • I don't know. But if they're using an unlicensed copy of her DNA themselves, or a derivative work, then they may get sued. I suggest they keep quiet about it.
  • ...they're running IPv4. They need update to IPv6, then they won't have those problems.

  • "I'm sorry Dr. Frankenstein, but you have no right to use the intellectual property of life, The exclusive rights for life have been secured by the University of Transylvania. A mob of lawyers with pitchforks and torches is on its way here. You could appeal to the Dean of the Department of Screwing Around with Stem Cells at the University of Transylvania, Professor Dracula. But the only responses that I have received from him are, and I quote, 'Blaeh! Blaeh! Blaeh!' Before I could press the matter furt

  • by MrQuacker (1938262) on Friday January 28, 2011 @05:29PM (#35038060)
    Buy a tanker and convert it to labs, then sail the ocean and do research out of the reach of lawyers.

    After all, there is no IP law in the middle of the pacific.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      But there is IP law where you want to sell the product; which is the point.

      News flash: You can have a lab and do all the research you want on patented cell research. In fact, you could even improve it and patent that.

      You keep being stupid, it suits you.

      • How so? Say you create a stem cell treatment for a disease. If the patient comes to you, then the IP problems arent there. That has nothing to do with geography.
        • by Arterion (941661)

          The patient's insurance company would refuse to pay. If they're paying out of pocket, how are they going to afford to cover all the overhead of the ship, tanks, equipment, etc.? If the research is privately funded, those people have to make their money back, too, even if they're looking to just break even and not profit. So what you'd end up with is breakthrough medical technology that's only available to the exceptionally affluent.

          I'm not sure that's any better, ideologically, than patents. At least with t

    • by WorBlux (1751716)
      You might want to research the sea-steading institute. Although China would probably be more practical place to do it.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday January 28, 2011 @05:30PM (#35038068)
    Let me see if I got this straight, some guy is complaining that since he couldn't use Federal money to do the research he wanted to do, someone beat him to it and now if he pursues it he won't be able to make as much money as he would like. Is that about the gist of this?
    And some /.ers are using that as an excuse to bash Bush for funding some embryonic stem cell research. He should have followed Clinton's lead and not allowed any federal fundign for embryonic stem cell research.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      "He should have followed Clinton's lead and not allowed any federal fundign for embryonic stem cell research."

      Except Clinton did allow fund for some Embryonic stem cells. Bush passed a law so no federal funding regarless of the source could happen.

      While Clinton was wrong, Bush as far, far worse.

      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday January 28, 2011 @06:44PM (#35038888)
        Under Clinton there was no federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. Additionally, Bush was President, so no, he did not pass a law of any kind. President Bush issued an Executive Order that allowed Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research as long as the research was on pre-existing stem cell lines. Before that, there was no federal funding of any embryonic stem cell research.
        I do not know where you got your "information", but it is completely wrong.
        • There was no federal funding of stem cell research under Lincoln either.
          • See, if Bush had refused to allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, Democrats would praise him after 100 years. After all, that's how long it took them to start admiring Lincoln.
            • Lincoln started a Civil War, he was among our worst presidents, if not the worst. He encouraged General Grant to send as many soldiers to their deaths as possible b/c the north had the population to take the hit and the south didn't. The only thing distinguishing Grant and Lincoln from barbarians was the idealism that fueled their beliefs: that the citizens they were charged with protecting mattered so little that they could be sent to certain death for "the sake of preserving the union." Lincoln is persona

              • I was going to reply with some snarky comment that you must be from the South, when something else hit me. Isn't it more than a little ironic that the South, the part of the country that literally fought a war against the first GOP president is also the place where the GOP is most celebrated?

    • by Chrontius (654879)
      He couldn't work in his field at all, because someone else patented any and all combinations of stem cells plus diabetus. If anything sounds catastrophically dumb, it's the ability to patent "stem cells plus * " and get a valid patent. It's like the old "internet plus * " and "computer plus * " patent storms all over again.
  • We've stayed far ahead in Science at all for the past fifty years. Capitalism really isn't the best way to build the future.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      So by your own admissions it works, but you still say it doesn't work.

      The evidence you present is that it does, in fact, work.

  • wasn't the patent system created so that researchers would build upon existing knowledge? It was the answer to the problem of guild trade secrets not allowing progress in the field.
    I.e I should be able to do research and patent the results, while having the patent as an "upgrade" to another patent. This is the most pure result of patents working exactly the opposite as they were intended - stifling research and innovation.
  • By accident, I RTFA; it's Friday, I blame myself. So, if I have a patent for some type of therapy that has yet to be proven; then everyone owes me money. But if my patent causes harm to someone then I am not to blame? Cool. But something smells like fish 3 days in the sun. I don't see a cure for "...paralysis, blindness and diabetes...", using anything; from my viewpoint, there is no valid claim. If business is pleading with the government about regulations, lets start with dissolving the patent offic
  • It was obvious during the Bush era that America would suffer a terrible and permanent economic harm by restricting stem cell research. Many researchers moved to england and Europe and patents will keep us from reaping in a mega fortune from the products certain to flow in what we be a huge stem cell industry. Wanting to restrict stem cell research and treason were locked at the hip. money and national security go hand in hand and the narrow minded right wing stopped research and left America out in th

  • of a government supporting condemning innocent people to death for lobyist profits. And we are not talking this time about people of a far away country in the middle east, but eventually someone close to you.
  • by timothy (36799) * Works for Slashdot on Friday January 28, 2011 @08:35PM (#35039778) Homepage Journal

    I don't plan to pay you (anyone reading this) to establish a church on Mars. You may think it's a good idea, but I have objections.

    However, please don't interpret this as a ban on your doing so.

    If you do, you are dum.

    Thanks,

    timothy

  • http://james-boyle.com/ [james-boyle.com] http://www.thepublicdomain.org/ [thepublicdomain.org]
    "Chapter 7: The Enclosure of Science and Technology: Two Case Studies"
    http://yupnet.org/boyle/archives/162 [yupnet.org]
    "Think of the reaction of the synthetic biologists at MIT. They feared that the basic building blocks of their new discipline could be locked up, slowing the progress of science and research by inserting intellectual property rights at the wrong point in the research cycle. To solve the problem they were led seriously to consider claiming copyright

  • Oh wait....that's right. There IS NO BAN....NO SPOON NEITHER...

    There is only a ban on using Federal funds (ie: American taxpayer money) on fetal stem cell research. Which has yet to show any results that supersede what we've been able to achieve with adult stem cells. And given another decade or so will likely be a moot point.

C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas l'Informatique. -- Bosquet [on seeing the IBM 4341]

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