Any Effects Of Gene Patent On F@H?

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Any Effects Of Gene Patent On F@H?

Postby PantherX » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:52 pm

I recently watched a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v8sfc36OtI) which gave a very brief and easy to understand outline of the gene patent issue.

This got me thinking that if a Cancer type is patented, would that mean that any protein folding related to that patented Cancer type has to be stopped or not? Moreover, assuming that the patent is "validated", would that have any affect on projects simulated by F@H (either in the past or in the future)?
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby SodaAnt » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:05 pm

I don't think so, it only patents the genes directly related to that, I'd think that a patent wouldn't cover protein folding at all.
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby Jesse_V » Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:38 am

I haven't looked up the details, but I just heard that the US courts have ruled that patents cannot be applied to genes because they are not inventions. However, the ruling did make the distinction that patents can be applied to modifications to genes or similar that are made in the lab.
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby bruce » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:10 am

Patents give someone the exclusive legal right to sell the invention. (Actually it's a little broader than just selling it, but it's almost always about the exclusive right to make money from it for a certain period of time.) Even if Cancer could be patented it seems unlikely that there would be a lot of people wanting to buy it.
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby JimF » Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:27 am

More basically, you are not practicing the invention when Folding, since you don't make, use or sell the gene even if it were patentable. You are only studying it. Unless someone gets a patent on that software technique (not possible if PG did it first anyway), then the patent on the gene is irrelevant.
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby PantherX » Sun Jun 16, 2013 7:39 pm

I did a very light reading and did find out that discovery of genes occurring in nature isn't patentable. The same isn't true for genetic modifications. I wonder what will happen to the pre-existing patents?

AFAIK, by having the genes patented, one wasn't allowed to "look into" those genes, meaning that you can not devise medical tests or treatment. However, this no longer holds true so am glad that the scientific advancements can continue :)
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby JimF » Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:25 am

PantherX wrote:AFAIK, by having the genes patented, one wasn't allowed to "look into" those genes, meaning that you can not devise medical tests or treatment. However, this no longer holds true so am glad that the scientific advancements can continue :)

If you need to use the actual gene for devising the tests or the treatment, then a patent on the gene (if that were possible) could be used to preclude that. However, Folding only uses a mathematical representation of the gene, so a patent on the gene would not apply.

NB: If you work to create a treatment using the gene based on the results of the Folding study, you could conceivably get into a situation of induced or contributory infringement, but that is another matter and can happen whether you acquire the information for the treatment from Folding or otherwise. It is a complicated matter at that point.
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby bruce » Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:24 am

Patent law is a complex field and I don't pretend to understand the details. Things that were invented are patented, which is why a natural gene might be "discovered" or "purified". I think the courts have used that logic to decide that it never should have been awarded a patent in the first place.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it is my understanding that FAH is funded primarily by government grants. Everything developed by FAH is published "in the public domain" which means even if something is invented in the process, it's not going to be patentable. The discoveries are available for anybody else to use in their own research. Of course there can be a legitimate issue about who developed the ideas first.
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby Grandpa_01 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:11 pm

bruce wrote:Patent law is a complex field and I don't pretend to understand the details. Things that were invented are patented, which is why a natural gene might be "discovered" or "purified". I think the courts have used that logic to decide that it never should have been awarded a patent in the first place.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it is my understanding that FAH is funded primarily by government grants. Everything developed by FAH is published "in the public domain" which means even if something is invented in the process, it's not going to be patentable. The discoveries are available for anybody else to use in their own research. Of course there can be a legitimate issue about who developed the ideas first.


Incorrect many University and Dr. / Professors hold patents to their research and receive royalties on their discoverers / work. An example of this I have personnel knowledge of is with UC Davis. If you eat a Strawberry today the odds are 95% that UC Davis and some of the professors there are receiving royalties from that strawberry.
Back in the 70's and 80's I was involved in their plant breding / cloning research. We as Strawberry farmers formed a group that paid UC Davis a fee to do research in plant development and actively participated in the propagation testing and marketing of the plants and fruit. When they developed a superior variety of Strawberry plant / fruit UC Davis and the Dr's that worked on it then patented it and collected royalties on it. At that time it was $1.50 per thousand plants which does not sound like much but at the time I was raising and selling 20,000,000 plants a year. So you do the math. Research can be very profitable to Universities and Professors.

There was quite a legal battle over it at the time because we the farmers had paid for a large portion of the research but were excluded from the patients and forced to pay royalties to the University system for something we had paid for to begin with. and the courts ruled it was legal.
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Re: Any Affects of Gene Patent on F@H?

Postby kasson » Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:45 pm

You're both right :). Typically if you work for a US university and you come up with something patentable, the patent belongs to the University (but the inventor receives some compensation if the patent generates royalties). That said, many US Universities give professors the option to place discoveries in the public domain rather than patenting them.

What we've said with FAH is that the FAH results will be made publicly accessible for non-commercial use. What would happen if, for instance, a drug company makes a product based on FAH results is a bit of a gray area. But we want to make FAH discoveries open for research into both "cures" and fundamental understanding. Hence the policy.
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