Apr 3, In fact, how does a woman look at another woman?
Messenger Last month, the U. Patent and Trademark Office issued its 10 millionth patent. But are all of these patents helping society? These critics are making their voices heard through courtroom challenges, legislative hearings and even street protests.
This grassroots activism might seem strange. After all, the patent system is a highly specialized technical and legal domain, seemingly of interest only to inventors seeking exclusive rights to commercialize their new technologies for a limited period of time.
Why has it become such a controversial site, and what can policymakers and citizens do about it? National Archives We the people and our patents When first developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the U.
By contrast, the U. And it encouraged widespread participation in the system by keeping patent application fees low and creating public displays of patented technologies to inspire future innovation.
Policymakers thought this would increase innovationwhich would produce economic and eventually social benefit. An patent, signed by President James Madison.
Patent application rates grew throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and inthe U. Indeed, many industries — from railroads to pharmaceuticals — have credited their success to the modern patent system.
And this approach has also gone global, buoyed by international legal agreements designed to create a uniform patent regime that would make it easier for inventions to travel, for inventors to reap rewards across borders and for markets to become transnational. This centuries-old system, which continues to this day, assumes widespread public agreement on the idea that stimulating innovation through patents will ultimately benefit everyone.
It envisions every citizen as a potential inventor and expects that if legislators and the courts serve the interests of inventors, they automatically serve the interests of the public. And it assumes the public will trust its decisions because the patent system is guided by scientific knowledge and the law.
Patents, persecuting rather than protecting? Public health activists have filed lawsuits stating that, rather than increasing access to technology, patents create monopolies that make good health unaffordable and inaccessible for many.
Ina coalition of patients, health care professionals and scientists challenged patents covering genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer at the U. They argued the patents had led to expensive and poor-quality genetic tests available only through one company: Myriad Genetics, the patent holder.
Meanwhile, small farmers have organized protests against seed patentssuggesting they accelerate the corporate control of agriculture in ways that are damaging for their livelihoods, for innovation, for consumers and for the ecosystem.
And civil society groups have instigated legislative hearings and media campaigns arguing that patents implicitly provide moral certification for the development and commercialization of ethically controversial areas of research and development.
Such campaigns began as early as the s, when environmentalists, animal rights organizations and religious figures challenged the patentability of genetically engineered animals.
Patent system officials and lawyers tend to view this activism as seriously misguided. They argue that these citizen challengers lack the expertise to understand how the patent system works: It is a limited domain focused merely on certifying the novelty, inventiveness and utility of inventions.
This technical and legal orientation is also embedded in the rules and processes of the system, which make it virtually impossible for average citizens to participateexcept by submitting patent applications.
Citizens are playing a more active role in science and technology policymaking in a variety of ways. They are now trying to ensure that the systems that regulate the development, availability and use of innovation better reflect their values and concerns.
For instance, patient advocacy groups have forced their way onto the review panels that distribute government funding for biomedical research, in order to maximize not just scientific but public benefit.
Is it possible to reform the system to accommodate the newly engaged public? Indeed, there is no natural definition of what the patent system is, what citizens should expect of it, or who should participate and how they should do so.
Consider, for example, the pan-European patent system, which by most accounts is quite similar to its U. In recent years, it has demonstrated openness to civil society participation in its bureaucratic and court proceedings, and incorporated attention to moral and socioeconomic concerns into its decision-making.
It has been particularly sensitive to citizen concerns regarding patents on software and biotechnology. A protest against software patents in the EU. It noted, for example: Blame is laid at the door of the IP system by many forces in society.
It is worth observing that while the U. And she seeks to have an active role in decision-making. Taking this citizen seriously will require serious patent system reforms.
Possible reforms include increasing opportunities for the public to participate in patent decision-making, allowing more legal and bureaucratic challenges on behalf of the public interest, and incorporating more emphasis on ethical and socioeconomic implications into our patent and innovation policies.Science News online features daily news, blogs, feature stories, reviews and more in all disciplines of science, as well as Science News magazine archives back to Featured.
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I’m the other woman in my relationship. He and I are co-workers, he’s 9 years older than me, we’ve worked together for nearly 10 years, and have been in a relationship for a little over a year. Zodiac Revisited contributor Morf13 has provided the following documents which he obtained earlier this year.
The documents pertain to mitochondrial DNA and hair analysis done on evidence from the Cheri Jo Bates murder.
In particular, it was done at the request of the Riverside Police Department in an attempt to incriminate their prime suspect.