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Patent Troll Going After Alzheimer's Researchers 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the king-of-trolls dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Nature News: "The website of the Alzheimer's Institute of America (AIA) doesn't reveal much about the organization, but portrays it as committed to supporting research and patients. Among people who study Alzheimer's disease, however, the AIA, based in St Louis, Missouri, is best known for filing lawsuits against companies and researchers — a practice that scientists say could hamper the progress of research into combating the dreaded disease."
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Patent Troll Going After Alzheimer's Researchers

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  • Poetic justice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:31PM (#35723652)
    Can somebody equip an Alzheimer's patient with a few Uzi's, send him into these guys office, and tell him the office is full of Nazi's? He can claim he is not responsible for his actions due to his Alzheimer's, and these bastards can get the justice they so richly deserve.

    I joined an Alzheimer's support group, but I keep forgetting to go to the meetings...
    • Re:Poetic justice (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pitchpipe (708843) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:37PM (#35723726)

      Can somebody equip an Alzheimer's patient with a few Uzi's

      There is no need. The judges that will oversee these cases will have no problem seeing the absurdity of this patent trolls claim's due to the proximity of Alzheimers to their own mortality. They only have a problem seeing patent/copyright trolls for what they are when it affects the young/poor.

      • The judge is a US judge yes? He/She is already paid off by the trolls and research and science will be held back even longer. Yeah! U.S. copyright law is so cash!
      • The trouble is that the damage has already been done. So what if the defendant wins against the AIA, that defendant has already had to shell out substantial money to defend themselves, money that could have been used for research.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Common law dictates that the loser of the case has to pay the lawyer fees of the winner.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Easy solution shift the research to countries where the loser pays in court. It doesn't even have to be the actual research just the fiscal headquarters of the research. Nothing like loser pays to really quieten down patent trolls.

      • by TavisJohn (961472)

        How about making all naturally occurring DNA sequences something that CAN'T be patented?

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Well, then you have to go about defining "naturally."

          Lets start. I promise you'll see soon what a quagmire such a simple suggestion really is...

        • by Locke2005 (849178)
          They don't have a patent on that sequence occurring in a human being. They have a patent on the concept of putting that same sequence into a mouse. As I said elsewhere, that's like having a patent on the concept of crossing a Poodle and a Labrador Retriever to create a Labradoodle, but whatever.
          • by t2t10 (1909766)

            Well, the concept of putting gene X into organism Y is an obvious concept to even a minimally trained molecular biologist, so it should always be unpatentable.

            Potentially, you might allow patenting a specific organism (like you can do with some breeds), but that would be pretty pointless since creating them is so easy.

            • by mcvos (645701)

              I guess methods for actually putting foreign genes into an organism might be patentable. But the DNA sequence itself should not be patentable in any sane universe.

              • by Locke2005 (849178)
                My point exactly,. Meaning that if I can create a mouse with the Swedish gene by a slightly different method, then AIA should just fuck off. And I'm willing to bet that the gene sequencing and gene splicing techniques used were developed with NIH funding in the first place.
        • by mcvos (645701)

          Wouldn't prior art be rather easy to prove? Just find someone who has that mutation and was born before the patent application.

          I don't see how anyone other than God can hold patents to human DNA sequences.

    • I think better justice would be if the Tolls developed Alzheimer's themselves(or someone close) & had to watch(and forget) their minds go to pot, when if they hadn't been such dicks they'd have been cured & died of something less horrific.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      The Joe Stack model isn't a bad idea. After all, if Boomers are going to die anyway they can make that count too.

      If there are no intolerable consequences there isn't much reason NOT to waste people who really piss you off.

  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:34PM (#35723684) Journal

    The suit concerns an AIA patent on a human DNA sequence used in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease.

    This.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why is this even patentable? Isn't a human DNA sequence a fact? It sounds like getting a patent on the atomic structure of lead or something.

      • I remember watching a documentary on some sea creature that was being studied for possible medical uses. In the end, some genes from it were patented. From the creature that already existed.

        Reminds me of a cartoon called I Am Weasel. I.R. Baboon, the dumb character, is jealous that I.M. Weasel, the smart character (as a caveman) just invented the wheel. I.R. then picks up a rock and announces that he has invented the rock.

        It was a joke back then.

        • It's slimy as hell, but they're not patenting the original sequence, they're patenting the sequence as modified for optimal function in the new organism, and making the argument that the DNA sequence is the blueprint to a machine (which it is.) Usually this new organism is the mouse.
    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:50PM (#35723864)
      It's not legal. Congress passed a provision in the 80's to allow companies to patent genetically modified crops so someone couldn't simply steal some seeds and resell them. The provision does not cover animals, and certainly not human DNA. The courts have continually failed to distiguish between the 2 and since congress sees the united states ecenomic future and being the worlds patent troll, they go right along with this shameful practice. There are even several AIDS drugs that were derived directly from blood samples taken from desperately poor prosititutes in Africa. They actually patented the poor womens entire DNA sequence. If anything gets you sent to hell, it's this sort of crap.
      • by PFI_Optix (936301)

        After reading TFA, it sounds to me like the issue isn't with the use of the gene, but with the use of genetically modified rats, which should be protected under the same laws as GM crops. The article indicates the patent is actually on the "mouse models" and not the gene itself.

        Not defending the suit, just playing trolls' advocate for a moment.

      • There are even several AIDS drugs that were derived directly from blood samples taken from desperately poor prosititutes in Africa. They actually patented the poor womens entire DNA sequence. If anything gets you sent to hell, it's this sort of crap.

        "Aaaaand Real Life squeezes past Dystopian Sci-Fi on the inside! What a move Carl!"

        "You said it Jeff, it's gonna take some sick shit for Team Sci-Fi to retake the lead after a ballsy pass like that."

        • What about growing people for organ harvesting? Or moving up the date of an execution for the same?

          ...

          Damn you, China!

          This is probably why science fiction has moved back to being positive, and on to transhumanism.
      • by Tim C (15259)

        Congress passed a provision in the 80's to allow companies to patent genetically modified crops so someone couldn't simply steal some seeds and resell them.

        I appreciate that you've almost certainly presented a vastly simplified account of what happened, but how was that not already sufficiently covered by existing laws?

    • Prior art being unpatentable, the playing of Go is not much widely suggested. In fact they don't much suggest anything easy, simple, or relatively available. Go is different than Sudoku and crosswords because it relies on mental processing more than pure mental recall; you have to analyze the board and determine what to recall all over the place, and then analyze various combinations, possible permutations, advantages, disadvantages... it's rather complex mental processing.

      It's somewhat well established

    • by indeciso (1350357)
      Prior art!!!
  • I had a great joke for this thread, but I forgot what it was.
    • by jabberwock (10206)
      I saw you steal one of my socks.
    • by peterhil (472239)
      The joke was probably about not invented here (NIH) syndrome, as the Jackson Laboratory asked their funder, US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to assume defence for them in the case. But yes, I agree. DNA being patentable really, really sucks.
      • DNA being patentable really, really sucks.

        Unless someone steals *your* DNA, makes hundreds of thousands of clones of you, and then sells them as 'happy home helpers'. You might get a bit annoyed with random people assuming you've escaped from domestic service, and a bit miffed with the profits generated from selling copies of you. At that point, you might, just might, see the positive aspects of DNA patents. Admittedly, as a justification for DNA patents, that's a pretty thin excuse based mainly in tin foil hat land.... In all other aspect they ar

  • These patents are valid only in Fuckupistan (the US), right? No problem in that case; nobody would be able to afford the fruits of the research anyway.

  • All these organizations are fighing over rights to a discovery. They did not invent this gene they found it existing in the wild. If anyone deserves owership of it, it's the human family in sweeden who contain the gene as part of their person and suffer from its effects. I'm sure this family just wants altimers cured.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Sweeden, yah, where artificial sweedeners were invented!
      • Yeah it's pretty bad, sorry about that. It's a work computer and stupid IE7 doesn't have the auto spell checker like fire fox. No red lines and everything's OK right.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:46PM (#35723814)

    This is good. The trolls are (stupidly) getting into areas people really care about (rather than software innovation) and the backlash could be very useful in driving change.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      That's a very good point. It is egregious abuses of the patent law like this that might finally spur congress to finally fix the patent laws. Pretty much anyone can relate to the argument, "Wait, you're suing people for using a sequence of information that has been naturally occurring in people for hundreds of years? That can't be right! Why is that even patentable in the first place?" And any jury is definitely going to sympathize with the Alzheimer's sufferers, regardless of what the law says.
    • Unfortunately, while that sounds like a reasonable idea, the courts have started making a distinction between subject matter. For instance the validity of business method patents were at issue Bilsky case. Give how substantially similar a business method is to a software algorithm most people believed that any ruling on this case would be directly applicable to software patents. The Supreme Court however intentionally dropped the ball by narrowly defined the terms of their ruling so as to exclude softwar
    • by sdguero (1112795)
      Hopeful but I fear its a naive wish. There are too many lawyers nowadays and IP law is too big of business now for any reasonable change.
    • by mysidia (191772)

      Now if they would just get into areas politicians really care about... like patents for ways to expand bureaucracy/taxation/government spending.

      Now, please excuse me, while I finish off the patent application for my new invention.

      Method of reducing a national debt by printing additional currency, and tendering newly printed currency to debtors

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:51PM (#35723880)

    ... demanded a $799 license fee from every sufferer of Alzheimer's Disease, since he owns the copyrights to the disease.

    Darl: "How dare you develop that disease without paying me first!"

    • ... demanded a $799 license fee from every sufferer of Alzheimer's Disease, since he owns the copyrights to the disease.

      Darl: "How dare you develop that disease without paying me first!"

      They all just forgot.

  • the AIA website [alzheimersinstitute.com] looks rather trollish too, as there's not much content for an organization which claims to "support research aimed at making significant gains in both scientific knowledge and improved healthcare for those living with Alzheimer's Disease, brain trauma or any memory disorder." Lots of the tabs on the main page lead to a temp.php which claims they're "working to update our website and anticipate having the information you've requested avalaible online soon". The copyright on the website is 2
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:55PM (#35723918)
    Shouldn't the AIA also be suing the Swedish family that has the gene? They are using it all the time, without permission, and their offspring are definitely profiting from it! A patent is a patent; it should cover every use of the patented method or device! Or perhaps you could just admit that maybe a sequence of genes that has occurred naturally for hundreds of years shouldn't be patentable in the first place...
    • All imports from all countries should be banned because some employees creating those products will come down with unlicensed cases of Alzheimers.
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Reductio ad absurdum is a valid debating technique because it illustrates well the real question: Where should we draw the line in enforcing a patent that is so clearly and obviously not in the public interest?
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @02:59PM (#35723942) Homepage

    This is why any form of patent on naturally occurring genes is complete and utter bullshit.

    Is AIA also suing the Swedish family in which they found this mutation? Because, they're clearly infringing on the patent.

    There is no way that it makes sense to be able to patent parts of someone else's DNA. This doesn't do anything to "further innovation" or any of the things people say patents are for ... it lets some idiot patent something he found (not created), sell it to a 3rd party, and then that 3rd party prevents other people from using it for research. DNA is a "fact" not an "invention".

    In this case, I'd like to know which takes precedence .. the NIH requirement to share the mice, or this absurd "patent".

    This is just so wrong.

    • by kawabago (551139)
      It's no more wrong than patenting heart muscle and suing everyone who's alive except lawyers, who are all heartless. With the current patent system, it could happen!
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        It's no more wrong than patenting heart muscle and suing everyone who's alive except lawyers, who are all heartless. With the current patent system, it could happen!

        I can see that if you develop a mechanism to create heart muscles from scratch (and using mechanisms other than what the body does), that should be patentable. That's a process, and an invention.

        But, if you patent the heart muscle that I already have in me, then the patent system has gone horribly wrong and the whole notion of patents has becom

        • "..the patent system has gone horribly wrong and the whole notion of patents has become absurd" - Yes ....this is unfortunately the reality

    • This is why any form of patent on naturally occurring genes is complete and utter bullshit.

      Is AIA also suing the Swedish family in which they found this mutation? Because, they're clearly infringing on the patent.

      Actually, they wouldn't be infringing the patent (which is also why the naturally occurring genes in the Swedish family aren't anticipatory prior art). The patent claims require that the gene exist in isolation from any nucleic acids, and also require an immortalized mammalian cell line. Neither of those exist in nature, since that Swedish family is neither immortal, nor has DNA strands that are so short that they're a single gene.

      • by sjames (1099)

        The gene can't exist in isolation AND be part of an immortal cell line. The cells need other genes. If a member of that family gets cancer, they might (in theory) be in violation as they would then have a line of immortal cells containing that gene.

        I say of that form of Alzheimer's should sue AIA for not keeping "their" gene out of the general population.

  • anyone in for some LOIC?
  • Fry: Boneitis? That's a funny name for a horrible disease.
    80s Guy: There was no cure at the time. A drug company came close, but I arranged a hostile takeover and sold off all the assets. Made a cool hundred mil.

  • The best way to get reform of the patent system is for the patent trolls to have at it.

    Make a nuisance of yourself that is so obvious that even the most corrupt politician could see that it affects their future campaign contributions and their best buddies' businesses.

    Go crazy guys!
    • by dltaylor (7510)

      Their "best buddies" are the patent trolls, plus the others with a vested interest in the scam, dishing out campaign contributions. Constituents? In the business, those are known as the "marks".

  • ...that no one here ever has to see a loved one suffer from this disease. Of course, statistics will ensure that at least several will.

    My dad was diagnosed with it, and it progressed at a frightening rate (about half the average time) before passing away due to a complication.

    To watch someone you know and love lose a little bit more of themselves every day is heartbreaking in every sense of the word. When your own parent doesn't even know who you are after 30-40 years (38 in my case), you're just at a com

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday April 05, 2011 @03:42PM (#35724388) Homepage

    The EFF is fighting a similar battle over a patent on a gene that increases the risk of breast cancer. Appeals Court Hears Argument in the "Breast Cancer Gene" Case [eff.org]

    Because Myriad owned the patents, testing on these two genes could only take place in Myriad’s own labs – meaning that others could not develop tests on those genes, depriving women from alternative (and cheaper) tests...in March 2010, the district court found in the plaintiffs’ favor and invalidated the patents....

  • Patent Troll Going After Alzheimer's Researchers this week, every week.

    Original headline: Nursing home patient excited to be going home today, every day.

  • I wonder how it come that some people become patent trolls? I can't imagine anyone's childhood dream was; "when I am big, I am going to be a lawyer, a POWERFUL! lawyer that will sue everyone I know and anyone I can find".

    Probably, these people are forced to become patent troll by their financial circumstance, we should not be angry at them. They deserve our pity and help from their awful situation that has lead them to live a life of a destructive harbringer of everything good and cuddly.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      No, they want to be able to afford blowjobs from attractive women (or men, as the case may be). So do I, but I don't go around screwing other people over in order to achieve that goal. That's sort of like saying, "Sure, he killed people and stole their money, but he was only doing it because he was broke!" Or perhaps I'm simply not recognizing your attempt at sarcasm...
  • Ok, so the patent is not on the gene itself, but for that gene expressed in mice. So the method of splicing the gene into mice may be patentable. Did they actually invent gene sequencing and gene splicing, or was that developed by the NIH? Even if the method is theirs, they are claiming royalties not only on their method, but on all descendants of any mice ever created by their method? Isn't that kind of like the first guy to cross a Poodle with a Labrador Retriever demanding royalties on every Labradoodle
  • I'm so tired of this crap. The Greek's stole from the Egyptians. The Romans from the Greeks. Great artists always imitate and copy from their predecessors so they can learn--Science and Technology should be no different. Progress is going to crawl to a greedy halt if we keep up this patent bullcrap. Ultimately society becomes a better place when people do things for the greater good. Thank god Penicillin wasn't patented. Putting a patent on a strand of DNA is ridiculous. I just wish I was old enough
  • So the address for the AIA is: 2040 Whitfield Avenue Sarasota, Florida 34243 U.S.A.

    This is the same as the RosKamp Institute, http://www.rfdn.org/ [rfdn.org] another neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorder operation... related??
  • It should have been: Alzheimer researchers forget about patents.

  • > a practice that scientists say could hamper the progress of research into combating the dreaded disease

    Progress? Into combating Alzheimer's Disease? What progress?

    I haven't seen any progress on that front. At all. Alzheimer's is notoriously intractable. Every few years there's a story in the news about some new medical research into Alzheimer's, but it always comes to nothing. Aluminum pots? Not relevant after all. Amyloid inhibitors? Useless. Beta carotine? Apparently unrelated. Ginko? In
    • by Tim C (15259)

      Oh well, might as well just give up then if it's hard, eh?

      • by jonadab (583620)
        Honestly? I wouldn't put any of *my* money into Alzheimer's research, because I think a few more decades (at least) of basic primary research will be required before there's any real chance of getting anywhere useful with Alzheimer's. Maybe if we had some kind of reasonably useful model for how the brain actually works, for example, and what (if anything) the various chemical reactions and signals and whatnot have to do with how any of the higher-level functions are achieved, then perhaps we'd have someth
  • "a practice that scientists say could hamper the progress of research into combating the dreaded disease." I think this is something that we can extrapolate to every field. This is why we need to get rid of them...
  • by kikito (971480)

    Were did these guys come from? A comic book from the 70s?

    Do they also twitch their moustaches and laugh maniacally?

  • Just patent Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine and Thymine and sue these bastard patent trolls out of the market! Lets just get this done and over with.

    I worked in the medial industry and seen the amount of stress and hardship chronic illness causes to the sick and their families. Its sad that all this trolling is preventing potentially beneficial treatments. I'll bet the CEO of some of these patent trolls truly don't give a shit. We can only be so kind as to feel the same about them.

    • Dear failedlogic, My family started Alzheimer's Institute back in 1992 because our grandmother was afflicted with the disease. Out of our own pocket we funded a scientist's work in the field when no other pharma company or bio pharmaceutical was willing to invest. The scientist was and still is a close family friend. Because of his research he discovered Swedish Mutation which led for the first time the medical field to have a mice model to test drugs against and look for a cure. We are very open and in fac
  • Most of these troll cases are frustrating, but I have some background from this one. My Grandmother died from Alzheimer's disease. She was left in a nursing home for more than half of my life. I never really got to know my Grandmother well, except that she couldn't remember my name... I do remember the heart attacks, and her progression. Knowing you have Alzheimer is worse than actually suffering the results. You know you'll never remember your family again, your life, even your husband, but there isn't a s
    • Dear Mastermind, My family started Alzheimer's Institute back in 1992 because our grandmother was afflicted with the disease. Out our own pocket we funded a scientists work in the field when no other pharma company or bio pharmaceutical was willing to invest. The scientist was and still is a close family friend. Because of his research he discovered Swedish Mutation which led for the first time the medical field to have a mice model to test drugs against and look for a cure. We are ver
  • In follow the link to source article, there was an interesting comment form presumably AIA. I quote "For example, Jackson sold mice to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, which then used them in the development of commercial imaging agents. Penn then spun off the technology to Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which was later acquired by Eli Lilly for up to $800 million." It looks like AIA is going after the soft target Jackson and not the hard target University of Penn.
  • What a sick place America has become. Just F'ing sick.

  • I'm eagerly awaiting the day when someone patents "the process of breaking down organic substances through digestive acids to facilitate nutrition absorbtion" in order to try and shut down all grocery stores and restaurants for infringing on his food-eating patent.
  • Sounds like a good target for anonymous to me.

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