[open-science] Danes step away from patenting in favour of ‘open science’ | THE News

Jenny Molloy jcmcoppice12 at gmail.com
Sun Aug 13 23:02:18 UTC 2017

Agreed on all points, but after the patent has expired and subject to it
not being evergreened, you don't need the permissions i.e. it is open in
the sense we use the term. You're right, it might not be very useful after
20 years but some technologies are revived and others remain in use for
long periods (albeit with later improvements that would still be
protected). Beside the 3D-printing example, which I find quite convincing
but I'm sure others know far more and could tell me it isn't, here is a
list of biology-related technologies whose patents are expiring/will expire
in the next 1-2 years and are still useful for researchers/companies I know:

   - green fluorescent protein (several of the patent family at least) and
   other fluorescent marker genes
   - early quantitative PCR methods
   - various widely used genetic transformation techniques
   - early microarray techniques

On the fair use issue, some of us don't live in the US and therefore don't
have that luxury anyway ;). As I understand it, the US has a weaker
research exemption for patented technologies than other places so you win
some, you lose some on regional IP laws.

I'm not advocating for patents as being somehow a better system than
copyright or anything like that, just saying that we're stuck with those
that already exist and should at least take advantage of the rules where we
can. I'm a big fan of the Public Domain Review that celebrates cultural
heritage, art and wrtiting that has entered the public domain through
copyright expiry, but I'm also involved in data mining technologies to
liberate data locked up by our legacy publishing system and in advocating
that going forward we make as much as possible Open Access as possible.
Likewise, I'm excited to see what happens with No Patent initiatives as
well as how existing, lapsed and expired patents are used as they enter the
public domain.

On a patent related note, The Lens just had an update to include linkages
between patents and the scientific papers they cite in their free search
for DNA sequences. species and more: https://www.lens.org/lens/
They've done an analysis of the most highly cited papers in patents for
Nature using the tool:


On Sat, Aug 12, 2017 at 9:08 AM, Puneet Kishor <punk.kish at gmail.com> wrote:

> "patents have a useful property - they expire in 20 years (usually) and
> at that point the technology is publicly and demonstrably open" –
> perhaps… let's examine:
> 1. Patents, once issued, are always public though not open in the sense we
> use the term. The very idea of patenting is to let the world in on our
> patented "thing" so others may get the necessary permission and use it. Of
> course, the necessary permission may be so onerous that effectively the
> patented technology might well be out of reach.
> 2. Unlike copyright, the concept of fair use doesn't apply to patents, for
> the most part.
> 3. Twenty years, while substantially less than life+70, is still a very
> long time. If you have a hard time imagining where the world will be 20
> years from now, just think of where we were 20 years ago. Most of the
> technologies I use today were either still very new or not even invented in
> 1997. In some fields 20 years might well mean extinction.
> 4. If 20 years were not already enough, unscrupulous firms use what is
> called "greening of patents" wherein they make slight modifications and
> reapply for a new patent which, if they get it, is good for another 20
> years. This happens a lot in medical/drugs field.
> --
> Puneet Kishor
> Just Another Creative Commoner
> http://punkish.org/About
> On Aug 11, 2017, at 7:04 PM, Jenny Molloy <jcmcoppice12 at gmail.com> wrote:
> One other thing to point out is that patents have a useful property - they
> expire in 20 years (usually) and at that point the technology is publicly
> and demonstrably open. An excellent situation compared to copyright.
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