Thursday, August 20, 2009

More hate from the lawyers...

Below is a letter I sent to Brian Leiter in response to his piling on in defense of Holman, who I still contend is out of his league in reviewing a book on public policy, and then focusing only on his legal disagreements and characterizing them as me being "wrong." In many ways, this event reminds me of the town hall meetings going on back in the US. When faced with the potential of losing a monopoly on a questionable practice that has earned patent attorneys millions in fees, they resort to invective, threats, attacks, ad hominem, etc. Always skirting the central policy arguments and rationale, they seek to destroy reputations, to allege lies, deceit, and to claim their worldview is privileged. In many ways it is. Corporations hold the reins, and purse strings, and anyone challenging their primacy and modus operandi is open game. I never thought it would be an easy fight, but I never realized it would get so ugly.

It's a shame, I think if Leiter would read my book, and saw the naturalistic arguments I make about the nature and ontology of law, he'd be more sympathetic. Instead, he is defending his vetting of the reviewer (though he didn't select him), who really was nonetheless not an appropriate person to review my book. While accusing me of digging in, he digs in. Too bad. Instead he accuses me of "incompetence" ... it's a shame. It all hinges on accepting Holman's and other's interpetation of the "isolation and purification" smokescreen, which I dispel in my book and have done so numerous times, in numerous analogies, since then. If one doesn't accept that "isolation and purification" creates anything new and thus patentable, then all of the claims I make, characterized by Holman and now Leiter as "figments of the author's imagination resulting from his profound misunderstanding of patent law" are not at all, but rather real concerns.

I note that there are critical reviews of Leiter's books out there too, but I would never leap to the conclusion that any of them were "bad" books and that he should simply own up to that fact. It's a shame he does so, so very publicly, and without an opportunity for me to set the record straight on his blog:

Hey Brian,

Hardly was a "smear campaign," as I think asking about his industry ties is certainly appropriate.

"Mr. Koepsell protests that his book was really about ethics and policy, not law, so apparently his complete misunderstanding of patent law doesn't matter."

Actually, Holman admits it is a book on ethics and policy, not law. It is part of a series devoted to public policy, and was never marketed as a legal primer to gene patents. Moreover, I don't think it's fair to say I have a "complete misunderstanding of patent law." Holman and I disagree about the nature and effect of gene patents, and if you read my book, I lay out a logical argument and arguments by analogy challenging the "isolation and purification" notion. Obviously, well-intentioned attorneys and jurists disagree. The current suit against Myriad for the BRCA1 and 2 gene patents shows that at least some attorneys agree with my perceptions about the nature and effects of these sorts of patents. Since you lack a comments section to your blog, which really is quite harsh and rather offensive given that the book has in fact been received positively by others, I am posting this to my blog, along with a link to your blog.

I find it odd that you claim also: "Koepsell spews forth a series of ad hominem allegations against the reviewer, disputes no actual point of substance, and tries to explain away his other mistakes as "proofreading" errors (yeah, right)"

What "series" of ad hominems are you speaking of? I raised a legitimate concern given Holman's past positions and potential vested stake in the outcome of this debate. I see nothing else that could be characterized as an ad hominem. Please enlighten me?

Not sure why even legal scholars like yourself must resort to vitriol. My aims and goals are to change public policy about gene patenting. My arguments and understandings of the current state of gene patenting accord with those of many other legal scholars and philosophers, and my methods have always been the use of logic, ontology, and argument rather than personal attacks. This issue seems to have raised the ire of patent attorneys especially, even as scientists and progressive-minded lawyers have rallied to the cause.

All my best,

No comments: