|Patenting your right to medical privacy?|
Sound far fetched?
Its not - the US Supreme court is hearing arguments on this very issue.
Basically the question here is that should the US patent system be allowed to support this kind of patent?
I say no...
No matter what you do the mental decision by a human being to correlate the results of some testing process with a decisions for a treatment for a patient is not something that should be covered by a patentable process. Ever.
I am backed in my feelings by, among many, many others, the Mayo Clinic (see this PDF) and the ACLU (see this PDF).
The idea of the patent is basically 1) apply some drug, 2) monitor the results of the drug, and 3) apply some other drug based on the result of #1 and #2.
How is this unique, novel, or interesting.
The drugs involved are not being considered for the patent.
Only the idea of steps #1..#3 above.
If the Supreme Court allows this type of patent than simply substitute anything you like into these steps and viola - you have something patentable.
By simple substitution now we can 1) apply a tweak to the fuel injectors on your car, 2) monitor the result, 3) recommend a fuel additive.
Bingo - a patentable process - one that the patent police can use to come to your door and make you pay.
Think this is far fetched?
Its not - its already happening.
In "Genetic Engineering - It's What's for Dinner" I wrote about how Monsanto enforces its patents on genetic soybean engineering of folks whose farms are adjacent to those that use Monsanto's patented soybeans. The birds and bees spread the genetically engineered soybean pollen to these adjacent farms and create a liability for these farms - because they are now using Monsanto's patented genetics.
Now these folks didn't ask for this to happen - it just did.
This is also just like I wrote about with "ASCAP..." Liability is created for someone by acts they have no control over - like singing an "ASCAP" song at their place of business.
So now this will penetrate the confidentiality of the "doctor/patient relationship."
For patented processes the "owner," of the technology, Prometheus in this case, will have the right to burst into your medical examination room to determine whether the doctor is infringing its patents as he creates a treatment strategy for your disease.
Just like Monsanto.
Just like ASCAP.
Why are we, as a nation, doing this to ourselves?
The patent system is broken.
It started with software patents.
Mostly these did not impact the "average joe"... Though I did read that the average cell phone today involves 200,000 patents.
More BS because most of these patents are BS patenting things that already exist as I've written about extensively before (see my thoughts by following the "Google Patents" thread on this blog starting with this...)
The US Patent Office is broken in that no one can have enough knowledge about the world to correctly ascertain whether some idea is new and unique or not. The patent office originally required you supply a working model of your patent, i.e., a "thing" that demonstrated the patent. If you didn't do that no patent. But that all changed when the Patent Office began allowing "software patents."
So now we have mental actions by doctors subject to patents.
And there are, of course, two sides to this.
While you might consider Prometheus Labs a "big, evil corporation" remember that grandma's pension might own some Prometheus stock. So wiping out their interests might force grandma to move into your house in order to survive...
(Another write-up here...)