The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding. — Louis D. Brandeis
Just a few words and little thought separate yet another stronghold of the American economy from ruin. It doesn't have to be that way. The U.S. patent system has made America's biotech and pharmaceutical industries the envy of the world.
This month, the
The cost of diving into the pseudo-scientific swamp created by the petitioners could be substantial. The U.S. Patent Office has been granting patents on man-made DNA constructs for nearly 30 years. Today, the United States is the world leader in biotechnology and health care — in no small part due to a long history of robust incentives for innovation investment based on stable and reliable patent protection. Yet taking the bait proffered by the ACLU would put that at risk.
The emotional red herring does not stop there. The ACLU maintains that if we continue to reward scientific progress with these patents, then researchers and health care providers will be prevented from using the patented inventions to further scientific research and medical product innovation. This, too, presents a false choice. Patents and scientific progress can coexist in genetic medicine. In fact, they already do.
Artificial DNA constructs like those at issue in the case represent the very best reasons for patent protection. Insulin, human growth hormone and
Our Founding Fathers had the foresight to provide this means through the patent system mandated by the U.S. Constitution (Article 1,
Patent protection and scientific progress go hand in hand. The marketplace has proved adept at providing access to patented DNA constructs to further scientific progress because of patent protection, not in spite of it. Since the patents in the case were granted, according to the respondents in the case, "over 18,000 researchers have conducted studies on the BRCA 1/2 genes, published over 8,000 papers, and conducted over 130 clinical trials." In short, this state of affairs illustrates the very dissemination of science and knowledge envisioned by the Constitution — a far cry from the secrecy surrounding scientific discovery and the diversion of private investment dollars to other technologies and other countries, to which the petitioners' position would lead.
What's more, forward-looking patent holders and leaders in health care research — the
In the gene patent case before the Supreme Court, the rhetoric does not match the reality. Working with the patent system as it has existed for 30 years, the private sector has developed ways to balance the strong incentives provided by patents with the desire for progress in the field of human
The case is Association for Molecular Pathology et al., v.
Lawrence Horn is president and CEO of MPEG LA, LLC, the Chevy Chase-based company operating the Librassay patent licensing facility. Kristin Neuman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is executive director of Librassay. and was previously a biotech patent lawyer in private practice. The authors are employed by MPEG LA, LLC, the company operating the Librassay® patent licensing facility mentioned in this piece. Lawrence Horn is President and CEO of the company. He has nearly 20 years of experience operating patent pools that have accelerated technology dissemination in other industries, such as consumer electronics. Kristin Neuman is Executive Director of Librassay®. Prior to joining Librassay, she was a biotech patent lawyer in private practice.