The bane of bad patents is well known throughout the software world, but a new study from MIT’s Heidi L. William looks at the cost of patents on genomic data, using the race t0 map the human genome as a rare case study.
Carolyn Y. Johnson has a great write-up of the study, and raises the regular argument: That biomedical research needs long patent lives to get funded, and that public research removes the financial motivation, decreasing breakthroughs.
The study found almost the opposite, however, when it came to research done on two sets of genetic data: The first set was done by a publicly-funded team that released all of its data freely, while the second set was created by private company Celera, which allowed academic use but required licensing agreements for wider distribution and product development.
Interestingly, the study had the opportunity to look at the long-term impact patents had even when the information’s patent eventually lapsed, and the results were surprising.
Via Irina Radchenko