[…] the story of Myriad Genetics, the biotech company that has a test for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (often an indicator of a higher risk for breast cancer). The company argued that because of its patent on those genes, no one else could test for those genes. Back in 2013, the Supreme Court did the right thing and finally rejected the concept of gene patents, despite years of the USPTO granting such patents. As the court noted, allowing gene patents created a perverse situation in which a single company could have the exclusive right to isolate a person’s own genes — and that’s just not right.
But Myriad Genetics did not give up easily. Just a month after the Supreme Court ruling it sued a bunch of competitors over a different set of gene patents, insisting that the Supreme Court had really only struck down the two in question. Those lawsuits did not go well, as Myriad lost again and again. At this point, it’s only choice was to go back to the Supreme Court, where it was obviously going to get a pretty big smackdown — so Myriad has now admitted that it will not pursue an appeal effectively ending this latest round of cases (after costing those other testing centers tons of money to defend themselves).
Good for Myriad, finally seeing sense (though at great expense to many).
Meanwhile, however, the USPTO (US Patent & Trademark Office) continues its long running bad strategy of simply tweaking its guidelines to allow more application. This despite a) court rulings disqualifying such non-innovations and b) overwhelming proof that the strategy does not aid innovation.
I find it astonishing that an organisation can go so wrong in that its primary activity now appears to be directly opposed to the goal it was created to promote.
Worth reading (or viewing the video). Most things presented as “innovation” today are just not. Whether it’s by an individual in a TED talk, or by a company talking about their latest product.
Problems are not “puzzles” to be solved. That metaphor assumes that all the necessary pieces are already on the table, they just need to be re-arranged and re-programmed. It’s not true.
“Innovation” defined as moving the pieces around and adding more processing power is not some Big Idea that will disrupt a broken status quo: that precisely is the broken status quo.
One TED speaker said recently, “If you remove this boundary, …the only boundary left is our imagination.” Wrong.
If we really want transformation, we have to slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions). Bracketing it off to the side to focus just on technology, or just on innovation, actually prevents transformation.
Instead of dumbing-down the future, we need to raise the level of general understanding to the level of complexity of the systems in which we are embedded and which are embedded in us. This is not about “personal stories of inspiration,” it’s about the difficult and uncertain work of de-mystification and re-conceptualization: the hard stuff that really changes how we think. More Copernicus, less Tony Robbins
Prof.Steve Keen writes & talks:
At a talk entitled “The Age of Entitlement is Over?” at the [Sydney] Northside Forum, after recommending George Monbiot’s excellent article on grouse I used the Open Source program Minsky to model what can happen when a government runs a permanent surplus. The result is not what advocates of government surpluses expect. (you can download the model Prof.Keen used in Minsky).
In a nutshell, country economics don’t work on exactly the same basis as companies or households. Pretending that they are all the same is a really bad idea.
Stupid patent (pending) example:
“iCamPRO has 8 built-in IR LEDs with a light sensor to trigger them on/off. Our patent-pending technology allows you to turn the IR LED lights ON or OFF from app.”
Nothing innovative. Not “non-obvious to an expert in the field” (European patent test). This is from an Amsterdam, The Netherlands based company. Speaking as a fellow Dutchie: embarrassing.
I hope and expect that the European patent office won’t grant that patent, as it just doesn’t pass even their basic tests. But think of why it was filed in the first place… what kind of stuffed business logic and waste of resources lies at the basis of that. Sigh.