28 March 2008

Sick Idea: Using Patents to Kill People

How, er, sick is this?

Of all the exclusions from patentability, most poignant is the bar on patenting methods of surgery, therapy or diagnosis practised on the human or animal body. While it seeks to release medical practitioners from the shackles of commercial monopoly and legal liability when choosing how best to treat their patients, many argue that its true effect is to stifle the creation, publication and promulgation of new techniques that save lives or improve their quality.

Poignant? It's basic human decency. Imagine being unable to use a life-saving technique on a patient simply because it was "patented", and the licensing fees were exorbitant. Imagine, indeed, the situation in developing countries that can't even afford medical equipment, much less absurd, intellectual monopolies.

There's a reason we don't have patents on such things: they represent basic human knowledge of the kind whose invention and transmission down the generations lies at the heart of our civilisation and humanity. The day we start charging for this kind of thing is the day we as a race are in deep, deep trouble.

1 comment:

Roy Schestowitz said...

I've known about it for some time. I am filled with disgust whenever I see it again. Worse than the pharmas...