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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Supreme Court to Rule on Patent for Your Thoughts

Published on Tuesday, March 21, 2006 by the Guardian / UK
by Oliver Burkeman
The US supreme court is due to hear arguments in a case today that could overturn thousands of controversial patents, after a lower court ruled that doctors could infringe a drug company's ownership rights "merely by thinking" about the relationship between two chemicals in the human body.
 
The case concerns a patent granted in 1990 to scientists at the University of Colorado and Columbia in New York. They discovered that high levels of an amino acid, homocysteine, in the blood or urine tended to be associated with a deficiency of B vitamins. But their patent does not just relate to the test they invented. It asserts their ownership of the idea of correlating the two chemicals - leading to the charge that they have patented a law of nature, rather than a human invention.
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