Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Biotech Medicine Patents

Never Mind the Epidemic, Who Gets Patent Rights For the Cure? 135

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-sure-robin-cook-splits-it-with-michael-crichton dept.
A virus that has so far killed nearly thirty people in seven countries faces a non-medical obstacle to treatment: Patents. Reader Presto Vivace writes with this excerpt from the Council on Foreign Relations: "At the center of the dispute is a Dutch laboratory that claims all rights to the genetic sequence of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus [MERS-CoV]. Saudi Arabia's deputy health minister, Ziad Memish, told the WHO meeting that "someone"--a reference to Egyptian virologist Ali Zaki--mailed a sample of the new SARS-like virus out of his country without government consent in June 2012, giving it to Dutch virologist Ron Fouchier of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Never Mind the Epidemic, Who Gets Patent Rights For the Cure?

Comments Filter:
  • It's not a patent (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:16PM (#43884603) Homepage

    It's a Material Transfer Agreement that means you agree to some restrictions including sharing / ceding patent rights. (That's OK, it's Timothy, we don't exactly expect accuracy here.)

    But the real answer is 'so what'? Berne Convention, be damned. Countries with a vested interest in this issue aren't going to let some weenie little Dutch lab push them around.

    And they got the material illegally in the first place.

    I'll go back to breathing normally now.

    • Re:It's not a patent (Score:5, Interesting)

      by postbigbang (761081) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:20PM (#43884627)

      The sequence is data. I don't think patents cover data. You could modify the data, but a patent claim is dubious. Working pi to infinity-2 is data. It's not patentable. My DNA, your DNA, is not patentable. Mod them uniquely, and you're Monsanto.

      • Re:It's not a patent (Score:5, Informative)

        by St.Creed (853824) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:53PM (#43884795)

        It's not patented... *sigh*

        What the lab did was to sequence the genome and then (oooh evil) expect to get paid for that work if someone else wanted to use THEIR work to build something with that. That's the modus operandi of every other genetics lab in the world - they all analyze stuff and then provide results to paying customers.

        The Dutch lab is not blocking anyone from sequencing the genome themselves - that's a problem with *Saudi-Arabia*, they didn't even want to send the virus out to anyone in the first place for fear it would reflect badly upon their country. If the Saudi's sent out the virus to the CDC and other labs, for instance, this issue wouldn't be an issue, now would it?

        The article is completely and wildly off the mark, and the summary is confusing the issue even more, if that's even possible.

        • by the gnat (153162) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @03:16PM (#43884889)

          The article is completely and wildly off the mark, and the summary is confusing the issue even more, if that's even possible.

          This is at least an improvement over the previous article on the same subject [slashdot.org], which didn't even identify which IP claims were causing problems. But I agree, there is some incredibly sloppy reporting going on here. I realize that the storyline of "evil Western profiteers kill people with patents" is very tempting for lazy journalists and activists, and there are genuine problems [wikipedia.org] with the patenting of gene sequences, but that's not even what's going on here. This is purely a case of bureaucratic infighting and ass-covering, and the article couldn't point to a single instance where Erasmus University actually prevented anyone from researching towards a cure.

          • by KGIII (973947)

            Your facts get in the way of my getting to use this comment:

            "Ah yes, we're exporting Americanism everywhere."

            Damn you! I wasn't even going to read the article, I was just hoping for somewhere to place that comment. Now I see it's not even valid. Meh... I could probably STILL use it down-thread and someone will either mod it or reply to it. There's something to be said for just reading the summary, it's definitely not fair if you have to go knowing stuff and spouting facts and stuff. That's just not cool, ma

        • Re:It's not a patent (Score:4, Informative)

          by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @03:44PM (#43885033)
          "Virus data placed under EULA"

          There, happy?
          • by St.Creed (853824)

            Yes, that's pretty much spot on.

            As I said somewhere else in this thread:

            "Ron Fouchier is the same guy that was burnt to the ground by the US government when he and his lab wanted to publish that dangerous virus recipe in Nature to inform everyone that the mutations could happen in nature by themselves. Is anyone really saying he should now suddenly send off his known-to-be-lethal virus sequence to all and sundry without even limiting his liability? That's incredibly hypocritical and also quite stupid.

            You ca

            • Ron Fouchier is the same guy that was burnt to the ground by the US government when he and his lab wanted to publish that dangerous virus recipe in Nature ... It's either "let him share information" and publish in Nature and Science without having senators screaming he's a terrorist and they should nuke the Netherlands

              Apparently your definition of "burnt to the ground" includes "publication was delayed". You make it sound like he was tortured by the Inquisition. Also that paper was not about a virus that exists in the wild (like this one), but about how to modify a dangerous virus so that it was more communicable to people. While his intent was scientific, it does sound a lot like how to build a better biological weapon. Publishing about a virus that already exists does not.

              t's either "let him share information" and publish in Nature and Science without having senators screaming he's a terrorist and they should nuke the Netherlands

              Bombast from congress? Who would've imagined. B

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @03:52PM (#43885081) Homepage Journal

          What the lab did was to sequence the genome and then (oooh evil) expect to get paid for that work

          Fine, so pay them for their work.

          Find out what the researchers and lab techs were being paid hourly, add up the amount of time they spent, add 10% for a reasonable profit and cut them a check.

          They're already amortizing the equipment, so maybe kick in another 1 percent for the cost of electricity and space for the lab. Find out how much of the work was done at publicly-funded institutions and send the Dutch lab a bill for that.

          Patents for gene sequences should not exist. They're going to cause problems far in excess of their value to society.

          • by St.Creed (853824)

            Patents for gene sequences should not exist. They're going to cause problems far in excess of their value to society.

            Probably. Anyway, that's not the point here since they didn't patent anything. They're just asking people to sign a very standard MTA that limits their liability in case you decide to use the virus to bump off your neighbour, and gives them a cut of the stuff you develop with it. Everyone is free to re-sequence the DNA and avoid this clause. Except that Saudi-Arabia wasn't sharing any information, and the information sent to the Dutch lab wasn't sent legally in the first place, because S.Arabia wanted to pr

            • the information sent to the Dutch lab wasn't sent legally in the first place

              So they're claiming rights to something that was obtained illegally. That could be an interesting legal situation.

              Is anyone really saying he should now suddenly send off his known-to-be-lethal virus sequence to all and sundry without even limiting his liability? That's incredibly hypocritical and also quite stupid.

              It would be incredibly hypocritical if anyone was saying that, but since they're not, you're being incredibly disingenuous in attacking this straw man. This is about making a buck off samples of a virus (not the genetic sequence), which, for good measure, they obtained illegally.

              • Boo-boo: strike out "(not the genetic sequence)". They're claiming rights on that too. What's next for "property rights" for scientific discoveries, the developer of a new theory of gravity insisting on everyone signing an agreement before they can use it? Newton and Einstein didn't realize the money they lost by just publishing.
                • by chihowa (366380)

                  What's next for "property rights" for scientific discoveries, the developer of a new theory of gravity insisting on everyone signing an agreement before they can use it? Newton and Einstein didn't realize the money they lost by just publishing.

                  You know, if science isn't going to be funded collectively by society anymore, maybe that's the correct way forward. It is any wonder that smart people go to Wall Street and into advertising instead when they're expected to devote their lives to the betterment of all mankind and do it all out of the kindness of their hearts, too?

                  • by fostware (551290)

                    +1 Insightful

                    You can't cut funding to science programmes and not expect it to bite you in the arse

        • You are correct that it isn't a patent. It seems be more like a contractually based trade secret. It is unethical to allow such agreements to be enforced, especially for what basic research seems to suggest is a public university. At most, we should allow them to choose who to sell the information to, but not otherwise bind them downstream. However, if they need payment to do this research, the necessary payments should have been contracted first.
        • by Shavano (2541114)

          It's not patented... *sigh*

          What the lab did was to sequence the genome and then (oooh evil) expect to get paid for that work if someone else wanted to use THEIR work to build something with that. That's the modus operandi of every other genetics lab in the world - they all analyze stuff and then provide results to paying customers.

          The Dutch lab is not blocking anyone from sequencing the genome themselves - that's a problem with *Saudi-Arabia*, they didn't even want to send the virus out to anyone in the first place for fear it would reflect badly upon their country. If the Saudi's sent out the virus to the CDC and other labs, for instance, this issue wouldn't be an issue, now would it?

          The article is completely and wildly off the mark, and the summary is confusing the issue even more, if that's even possible.

          Why can't they charge up front for their work, or on delivery of the promised work and be done with it?

        • by rastos1 (601318)

          What the lab did was to sequence the genome and then (oooh evil) expect to get paid for that work if someone else wanted to use THEIR work to build something with that.

          So they are fine with someone else performing the same gene sequencing (and likely getting the same dataset) and selling/distributing/doing business with that?

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:34PM (#43884697)

      I'll go back to breathing normally now.

      . . . not if you get the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, you won't . . . !

    • all problems solved ;)

      seriously... maybe... perhaps all these medical/life sciences patents and issues should be placed in public domain? like you boot up Unix and get (c) by 20 different companies? Universal MegaMedCorp LLC PTY M-O-U-S-E gets its name on every vial regardless who made it. good for mankind, good for morale.

    • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @03:23PM (#43884913)

      It's not a patent It's a Material Transfer Agreement that means you agree to some restrictions including sharing / ceding patent rights. (That's OK, it's Timothy, we don't exactly expect accuracy here.)

      I hate to be the first Slashdotter to defend our editors, but he didn't say "a patent". He said "obstacle to treatment: Patents". And in this case it's 100% right if you read carefully.

      The Saudis don't want the material transferred from their country except by a special mechanism which guarantees them the Patent rights. That is slowing down the rate at which the virus gets to people. The lab which has a sample doesn't want to distribute it without special agreements about patents. Again, this slows down the transfer. If the lab was not motivated by patents then it could simply say "all patents based on this material must be shared freely and without patents", however they don't do that.

      In all cases; if there were no potential future patents involved then the information could be shared easily and quickly. Patents and greed about them are the problem here.

    • It might be worth whatever consequence from breaking this law if it saves lives.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      It's not just that. There are allowed exceptions for healthcare in copyright and patent treaties. That is why India can legally produce copy medicines ignoring patents - it invokes these clauses and applies them widely. And even big pharma is helpless before that. They spent a lot fighting it - and lost.

      I'd be really surprised if Saudis let this get in the way.

  • Cuts both ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:22PM (#43884641)

    If they're claiming the rights to the virus, they have to take the wrongs along with it. Hold them accountable for the damage the virus does, up to and including loss of human life.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I like it. It's your virus? Pay up bitch!

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      Yep, patents are for inventions. If they invented the virus, they also must have let it loose on the world at large. Perhaps some Saudi style justice should be applied to those involved.

    • Re:Cuts both ways (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @04:08PM (#43885201) Homepage Journal

      Hold them accountable for the damage the virus does, up to and including loss of human life.

      Yes, the board, the shareholders and all C-level management should be held liable, personally.

      When you weigh the number of problems that would be solved immediately if the principals in a corporation were held personally liable against the benefits to society to having principals be protected from liability behind a corporate shield, I think it would be pretty clear the personal liability should exist.

      There would still be people willing to take the risk, since the rewards are great, but at least they'd have to give half a second to the consequences of their actions.

    • by the gnat (153162)

      If they're claiming the rights to the virus

      They (Erasmus University) aren't - read the article. All they're saying is, "if you want us to send you our data, you need to agree not to commercialize it without us, and you need to release us from legal liability." They're not claiming rights to the virus at all, only their own analysis. There is nothing preventing Saudi Arabia from performing their own analysis independently and completely ignoring the Dutch. In fact, what's really going on here is that Sa

      • by the gnat (153162)

        On further reading, I retract this statement:

        They're not claiming rights to the virus at all, only their own analysis.

        However, this stands:

        There is nothing preventing Saudi Arabia from performing their own analysis independently and completely ignoring the Dutch.

        • There is nothing preventing Saudi Arabia from performing their own analysis independently and completely ignoring the Dutch.

          How about total lack of competence combined with arrogance backing up the lack of information transfer from the Dutch? The original doctor mentioned that the Saudi labs checked for swine flu and then stopped working, which was the point at which he sent the sample abroad. The Saudis mention that there was then a multi-month delay before they were informed of the result from the Dutch lab. Whilst they shouldn't have been waiting, incompetence is impossible to avoid and so the Dutch get the blame for that

          • by the gnat (153162)

            it's very clear that patents and IP rights generally are behind the whole problem

            I wouldn't be so sure in this case. The Saudi official who has been complaining the loudest admitted (to a journalist who actually bothered to ask pointed questions) that the Dutch claim hasn't actually held up research in Saudi Arabia. He also admitted that the most bothersome aspect of this mess wasn't the lack of access, it was the fact that the Dutch were even claiming commercial rights that should have belonged exclusive

  • by Solandri (704621) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:29PM (#43884677)
    You reap all the rewards, but you're also responsible for all the harm. So if you want to claim you own a virus, then you're also fiscally and criminally liable for any harm that virus does. It also takes care of the Monsanto case where farmers who unknowingly have GMO crop blown onto their fields are successfully sued for patent infringement, but when organic farms who don't want the GMO stuff try to sue Monsanto for the same thing, Monsanto claim they have no responsibility for Nature spreading their seed around.
    • by DMoylan (65079)

      they'll just blame people making illegal copies and sue their next of kin :-)

      • by linear a (584575)
        I feel that one euro per unlicensed copy created by the defendant is fair compensation your honor.
    • by KGIII (973947)

      I hate to defend Monsanto but enough is enough. By now you've had time to read, you've seen the many posts, you've had the chance to learn. Monsanto has done none of those things you just accused Monsanto of actually happened (except maybe claiming they don't control nature, they don't). Here's a link:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#Legal_actions_and_controversies [wikipedia.org]

      No, that doesn't list all of them but don't you think that they'd include cases such as the types you're claiming they have had? There's no

  • After all, these people did not invent them and even if they did, that would basically be software, again free from patentibility in any sane legal systems.

    Do it any other way and the immoral vultures come in, people that not only do not care about others at all, but want to prevent anybody else from doing any work in areas the perceive as "theirs". That is a sure recipe for disaster.

  • by Roogna (9643) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @02:39PM (#43884717)

    If they "own" the virus, then send them the bill for ALL expenses related to the disease and it's effects. Put a lien on all their patents until they pay up.

    • by St.Creed (853824) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @03:00PM (#43884821)

      RTFA. They didn't patent it, they're not blocking anyone. The problem is with Saudi-Arabia, not with the Dutch lab. The article is borderline slander, but the summary is outright misleading.

      From the article:
      "Eleven months ago, Zaki told the Guardian, he was called in as a consultant on a mysterious case in his Jeddah hospital. Zaki tried to identify the virus, but the patient died less than twenty-four hours after he received the sample. Soon, a second case came his way, and Zaki mailed a sample to his friend, Fouchier. Zaki sent a notice in September 2012 to ProMED, a disease alert system run by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Under pressure from the Saudi government, Zaki's hospital in Jeddah fired him when the ProMED notice was posted, and he moved to Cairo."

      Note the timing: he was fired after the alert got out that there was a problem.

      Without the Dutch lab, there would have been no sequence and NO ALERT because the Saudi govt. was trying to keep it quiet. That was at a time that patients were already dying outside Saudi Arabia too. The whistleblower who saw two dead patients and a potential disaster and took action, is fired. Note that if they sent the virus to *ANYONE ELSE* the virus could have been sequenced a dozen times over, easily - it's not that hard. The problem isn't with a Dutch lab that asks for payment in return for results and a cut of the potential profit. The problem is with the Saudi government that fires people who actually try to alert the world.

      • Re:Bill them then... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ebno-10db (1459097) on Saturday June 01, 2013 @03:44PM (#43885025)
        Yes, Saudi Arabia screwed up (what a surprise) by trying to keep the problem under wraps. However, it's disingenuous to say there is no problem with the "Dutch lab that asks for payment in return for results and a cut of the potential profit". FTA:

        the Dutch team has not patented the viral genetic sequence but has placed it under an MTA, which requires sample recipients to contractually agree not to develop products or share the sample without the permission of Erasmus and the Fouchier laboratory

        They are not looking to be paid for their work in sequencing the virus, but to get a cut of any treatment that may be developed by controlling who is allowed to develop a treatment. Why, because they received a sample first? Forget debating the so-called intellectual property rights aspect of this. Regardless of how Saudi Arabia screwed up, this is a serious threat to public health. Currently in Saudi Arabia, and potentially the rest of the planet. I don't know what you'd have to do under Dutch law, but if it were in the US it should be seized under eminent domain. Before some "property rights" fanatic gets their panties in a twist, I'll say the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London was absurd. Transferring private property from one private owner to another isn't a public purpose. However dealing with anything that's a threat to the public health is very much a public purpose.

        • by the gnat (153162)

          They are not looking to be paid for their work in sequencing the virus, but to get a cut of any treatment that may be developed by controlling who is allowed to develop a treatment.

          But because there isn't actually a patent on any of this, there is nothing that prevents anyone else from doing the sequencing themselves. This isn't rocket science - in fact it is trivial for any reasonably well-equipped biomedical research institution. Saudi Arabia is only unhappy because they want to retain exclusive rights,

          • Saudi Arabia is only unhappy because they want to retain exclusive rights, which of course is quite legal under international law, but if they actually cared about developing a cure, they'd already have their own sequence.

            You keep claiming this. Please provide a cite.

            • by the gnat (153162)

              You keep claiming this. Please provide a cite.

              It's an assumption, but an entirely reasonable assumption under the circumstances. Conversely, the people complaining about this haven't pointed to a single instance where the Dutch university has actually held up research for a cure, which is what this article is claiming. MTAs are completely standard and it would be absolutely insane to instantly mail out samples of a lethal virus without some sort of legal agreement.

            • by the gnat (153162)

              You keep claiming this. Please provide a cite.

              Actually, sorry, previous reply was incorrect - I did in fact have a citation [sciencemag.org]:

              Memish, in an interview with ScienceInsider yesterday, says that he had not seen the MTA himself. "I spoke to many scientists that said they were not willing to take the virus because the MTA was too restrictive," Memish says, but he did not give specific examples. "I made my comments on this assumption," he says. But Memish says that the issue has not impeded research in Saudi Arabia

        • by St.Creed (853824)

          Well, the MTA is also about agreeing on limiting the distribution of a potential new plague. It would be pretty embarassing to have it end up in N. Korea through a chain of companies. This way, the signing party will be liable and Ron Fouchier won't get "renditioned" to Guantanamo for being a bio-terrorist if something goes wrong.

          As for the seizing of property: if there was a clear need for the data and this lab was sitting on it, the Dutch government could have a chat with their own university council to g

          • Well, the MTA is also about agreeing on limiting the distribution of a potential new plague. It would be pretty embarassing to have it end up in N. Korea through a chain of companies. This way, the signing party will be liable and Ron Fouchier won't get "renditioned" to Guantanamo for being a bio-terrorist if something goes wrong.

            You keep talking about the CYA aspect of it, which is straw man of your making since no one objects to that aspect. What you don't address is the "MTA, which requires sample recipients to contractually agree not to develop products ... without the permission of Erasmus and the Fouchier laboratory".

            As for the seizing of property: if there was a clear need for the data and this lab was sitting on it, the Dutch government could have a chat with their own university council to get it released. [emphasis added]

            Could doesn't mean they will, nevertheless you make a good point. Always twist somebody's arm first. If that doesn't work you can always break it.

        • by Zouden (232738)

          They are not looking to be paid for their work in sequencing the virus, but to get a cut of any treatment that may be developed by controlling who is allowed to develop a treatment. Why, because they received a sample first?

          No, because they put the resources into sequencing it. If you want to use their sequence data, you have to sign their MTA. Otherwise you're free to sequence it yourself and use your own data. The Dutch lab isn't preventing you from doing that.

        • by KGIII (973947)

          I don't know, either way... However, given the slant and inaccuracies or omissions in the article I'd attempt to verify any claims made by the article before coming to conclusions. I really don't know - but, in this case, I highly recommend finding alternative sources (preferably unbiased) and then use that information to reach any conclusions you wish to come to.

          Then again, I often opine that we should seek multiple sources of verification and engage in reasoning before reaching our conclusions. It hasn't

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        The problem isn't with a Dutch lab that asks for payment in return for results and a cut of the potential profit. The problem is with the Saudi government that fires people who actually try to alert the world.

        I'd say the problem is with both. The financial rewards should go to whoever develops treatments and cures, not to a publicly funded research lab that happens to have received disease samples for free and is now trying to profit from them.

      • RTFA. They didn't patent it, they're not blocking anyone.

        These suspicions were confirmed on 28 May by Science magazine, to which Erasmus admitted an as yet unpublished claim over use of the virus.

        (from this article [twnside.org.sg])

        The problem is with Saudi-Arabia, not with the Dutch lab.

        Erasmus determined that it was a new coronavirus (SARS is another coronavirus), but delayed several months before making it available to others.

        (same source)

        Saudi Arabia's Memish complained at the WHO meeting that there was a lag of three months, between June and September 2012,

        (article linked from summary above)

        The article is borderline slander, but the summary is outright misleading.

        That's a strong statement you are mak

        • by the gnat (153162)

          Here is a better source [sciencemag.org]. Selected quotes:

          Drosten, who has developed a diagnostic test using the virus from Erasmus MC, says that "anyone can use [the virus] for free." "What really shocks me is that the WHO seems to be buying into" the complaints, he says.

          Memish says that the issue has not impeded research in Saudi Arabia itself, where most cases of the virus have been found.

          Memish says that his main gripe is with the fact that Zaki sent a virus sample taken from a patient in Saudi Arabia to Rotterdam in t

          • Nice; Thanks. My chosen quote would be:

            the virus material still belongs to the original provider (in this case Erasmus MC) and that the recipient cannot give it to other labs. It also asks for written consent from Erasmus for using the virus for commercial purposes.

            After which I can't see how anyone can claim that this MTA doesn't slow down research. Think about the fact that producing and selling a vaccine is a "commercial purpose". Pharmaceutical companies do not operate as charities.

            • by the gnat (153162)

              After which I can't see how anyone can claim that this MTA doesn't slow down research.

              But an MTA of some sort is totally standard practice - I know because I've worked in biomedical research labs - and absolutely essential when dealing with samples of a lethal virus. Even if the MTA did not specify any limitations on commercial use, it would still slow down the transfer of viral material. Any time there's an issue of legal liability the lawyers will get involved. It's not as simple as throwing a sample i

    • by gronofer (838299)
      Sadly, patent law would work the other way around. They would be able to send you a bill for all the trillions of unathorised copies of "their" virus that your body is producing.
      • by gronofer (838299)
        Which presents an obvious business model: * Genetically engineer a novel infectable virus * Patent it * Somehow it may escape into the wild, purely by accident of course. * Sue anybody who is infected for the trillions of unathorised copies. Years ago this would have been unethical, but by modern standards, I'm sure you'd be fine.
  • If you can't pay for it the free market has decided you shouldn't survive.

    • by Kohath (38547)

      The disease decided you shouldn't survive. Free people making free choices decided to help you live instead. They're just asking for something in return for their time and effort.

      • by dcollins (135727)

        I will use those words the next time I'm looking for a polite way to describe blackmail.

        • by Kohath (38547)

          The farmer who grows your food is also "blackmailing" you the same way.

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      My great-great-......grandfather discovered iron. Pay up bitch. We own that element. Quit using it.

      I mean seriously, patenting genes and such and charging exhorberant DNA tests for thousands of dollars, when other companies have come up with tests that cost a mere $100. Just because you get to claim ownership of the gene.

      This does not sound stupid to you?

      I think it's clearly stupid. It would be like letting someone patent an element on the periodic table.

  • You are not supposed to be able to patent discoveries. Genetic sequences already exist unless you're doing genetic engineering. Therefore you should not be able to patent any genetics found in nature, because you haven't created a God-damned thing.

  • "Never Mind the Epidemic, Who Gets Patent Rights For the Cure?"

    I imagine that since the cure is, by definition, a derivative work of the disease, that some of the royalties will have to go to the labs that created the original disease.

    Obviously, if it's an "Act of God" rather than a lab that created the disease, the money should go in tithing to your local church.

    Correspondingly, you should be able to sue your local church, as God's representative on Earth, for compensation for any loss of life, pain and su

  • They're well known for being tight bastards. The reason their flag has horizontal stripes is so it can fray halfway to the staff before they need to buy a new one.

  • I would not worry to much about the patent rights, when holder is dead from this disease (natural spread due to the pandemic taking place) the patent is going to be confiscated by the government (of the U.S and rest of the world).

    You can't make money out this patent if 80% of the world population is dead due to this pandemic.

  • I say that if they claim the patent/all rights/ownership of this virus, then should they be held liable for the deaths caused by " their" virus?
  • At the center of the dispute is a Dutch laboratory that claims all rights to the genetic sequence of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus

    You fuckers want the rights to it? Granted!

    ...With one catch - You bear criminal responsibility for every single person who dies from it once you stake your claim to it. I would add "moral" responsibility as well, but hell, a retarded 2YO could have explained that one to you.

    If I own an aggressive dog, I have liability for its actions. Why should we
  • whine about patents. Because whining about patents cures ... ?

    People with drug patents might actually help you when you're sick. What will the anti-patent crowd do for you when you're sick? Besides trying to take away the financial incentive to cure you?

    • Follow you own logic. This lab is deciding who can develop a treatment, and what cut of it the Dutch lab will get. Is that your idea of a free market? They're controlling access to a virus, which will reduce the financial incentive for creating a treatment.
      • by the gnat (153162)

        This lab is deciding who can develop a treatment, and what cut of it the Dutch lab will get. Is that your idea of a free market? They're controlling access to a virus

        No, they're not. For fuck's sake, can't any of you read the goddamn article? (Slashdot editors included.)

        • FTA:

          impeding an effective response is a dispute over rights to develop a treatment for the virus

          the Dutch team has not patented the viral genetic sequence but has placed it under an MTA, which requires sample recipients to contractually agree not to develop products or share the sample without the permission of Erasmus and the Fouchier laboratory

    • by PortHaven (242123)

      Considering a lot more research is based on discoveries made by schools. And that 14 year old high school students are making better tests than bulti-billion dollar pharmaceutical corps.

      Um, probably quite a lot. Maybe if American's weren't expending nearly 5%-15% of their earned income on health care and insurance. We could crowd source most diseases away.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Before critiquing the /. article or subject, read the citation through to the end. Read the information about the Indonesian case, and the reason Indonesia refused to share, and the legal solution, which are among the reasons Saudi Arabia is objecting.

    Western investors in pharmaceuticals want money. They want patents and agreements that will guarantee them profits from cures for epidemics. They don't give a damn about the people who die of the diseases, particularly if those people could not have afforde

    • by the gnat (153162)

      The Indonesians, and the Saudis, want to put the lives of their "throw-away" citizens (third-worlders, Muslims, riff-raff, you know) ahead of the profits curing only those who can afford the cure and sucking off funds of charities to pay the margins their patents etc. add on, may provide them.

      I was going to respond to this, but another comment already made my point [slashdot.org]. The Indonesians and Saudis are grandstanding, because everyone hates Western pharmaceutical companies (I don't like them either) and they make

  • Isn't this like how you can't copyright a map? You can protect your version of the map but if someone else makes a map of the same area they will end up with the same map. This is why map makers put little errors in their maps so as to prove that it is a copy of their effort and not just another map.

    I hope the Dutch lose because this would set a terrible precedent in that nothing should get in the way of curing epidemics. If it is a truly bad epidemic hours can be the difference in a an order or orders of
    • map makers put little errors in their maps so as to prove that it is a copy of their effort

      Does anyone know that that is called? I thought I knew a real word for it once... maybe industry jargon and not a "dictionary" word?

      Maybe someone in the map biz can educate us.
      • by mikechant (729173)

        Does anyone know that that is called? I thought I knew a real word for it once... maybe industry jargon and not a "dictionary" word?

        "Trap Street" is one such feature:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trap_street [wikipedia.org]

        This is common, specific type of "Copyright Trap"; other bogus or distorted features may be used on maps other than street maps.

  • If someone gets their panties in a bundle because a pandemic-capable bug was shipped from their neighborhood, perhaps we should just fumingate their population to prevent its spread. Or, you could join the international community of science. Your choice.
  • . ..under the condition that they are responsible for any damages caused by 'their' gene.
  • I do not get it. Patent are only national protection, and one would have to file in every juridiction to get a world wide protection. And a sovereign nation can decide to make some patent invalid, the only thing that could refrain it from doing so is WTO's TRIPS, but not everyone signed it, and even for the nations who did, it has provisions to trump patents because of the general interest. See TRIPS article 27.2:

    Members may exclude from patentability inventions, the prevention within their territory of the commercial exploitation of which is necessary to protect ordre public or morality, including to protect human, animal or plant life or health or to avoid serious prejudice to the environment

    So where is the problem?

    • by the gnat (153162)

      So where is the problem?

      The only problem is that if someone makes money off this, the House of Saud might not get a cut. No one is preventing their government (or anyone else) from researching a cure; it's simply another excuse to bash Western pharmaceutical companies, as if any more excuses were needed.

  • Patents are for technology and copyrights are for works created by people. Neither are for facts of nature. Genes should not be patented. Those who try to patent the genetic sequences of living things should have their own genes rendered into slag.
  • If a thing called a human being asserted ownership of a patent for a virus, and used that patent in any way to block research for a cure, then . . ..

  • It means they intend to battle the coronavirus by sueing it for patent infringement. Might work.

  • ... of my recently granted patent on adenosine triphosphate. All your life are belong to me!

Hackers of the world, unite!

Working...