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The Medicine Chest: Attacking Gene Patents: Interesting Conversation - Bad Policy

By Steven R. Ludwig, Ph.D.

IP Today Columnist Steven Ludwig is a U.S. patent attorney with the law firm of Venable LLP in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Ludwig’s legal practice includes litigating and prosecuting pharmaceutical / biotech cases for his clients.  He can be reached at 202-344-4690 or via email at

Why don’t some topics of conversation just die or at least fade away?  I suspect it is because some things are so unsettling that we will simply always talk about them.  One such topic is who owns our bodies.

Did you know that there is a website –  The home page of this website proclaims: “Who owns your body?  Not you --- at least not any more: someone has rights to your DNA.”  To me, that is an enormous leap of logic.  How could the patenting of an isolated piece of nucleic acid mean that someone owns my body?  But the topic is in the news.

In 2006, Michael Crichton’s book “Next” generated renewed interest in gene patenting.  The Author’s Note at the end of the novel, states that Mr. Crichton arrived at a few conclusions after researching his book, including, stop patenting genes. 

The issue of whether to patent genes has...

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