Monday, September 21, 2009

and now, the film version... and Australia

We are in the development stage right now, but will begin filming for a documentary on the subject of gene patents later this autumn.

Luigi Palombi and I are also planning a workshop in Canberra on the issue of gene patenting to coincide with the Australian Senate's decision due late November, early December. We hope to get some interviews for the documentary while we are there as well.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Citation in Brief for Amici Curiae

I notice that Who Owns You and this blog are cited and quoted in a recent court filing in the ACLU v. Myriad case. The references occur in the BRIEF FOR AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS’ OPPOSITION TO DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS AND IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT for the National Women's Health Network, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, Center for Genetics and Society, Generations Ahead and the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research at p. 18. Quoting now the brief:

"The consequences of such attempts to assert exclusionary rights to our common heritage often involve harms to others. Attorney and philosopher David Koepsell asks us to “[i]magine a tax on air, or a levy on sunlight, or some corporation claiming ownership of the open seas and demanding royalties for their use. Imagine a world where ideas could be owned, and thinking ideas held by others was prohibited or subject to fees, taxes or royalties.” David Koepsell, Who Owns You?, Wiley-Blackwell at 133 (2009). He points out that the “human genome is a constantly evolving object that involves every member of the species” and that “[g]ranting exclusionary rights to discoverers of genes that are part of that genome interferes with our common rights as beneficiaries and possessors of parts of the human genome.” (Aug. 21, 2009 posting; last accessed Aug. 27, 2009)."

I am pleased to see this used in the brief, and I am quite honored.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Good review in NL

A favorable review of Who Owns You? appeared in De Ingenieur 21 August 2009 (I have scanned it and it can be read here, but it's in Dutch.) A shorter, English version by the same author is at

Meanwhile, I am reading and can recommend Luigi Palombi's Gene Cartels which does with the legal argument against gene patents what I have tried with the ontological/ethical argument. Palombi methodically examines the case law and statues, making the case that gene patents violate both the spirit and letter of patent law. I urge you to read this book if you want to see why the legal arguments made by proponents of gene patents are nonsensical.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Correspondence with Lawrence Lessig

Lessig is one of my heroes. This is from his bio at his web site:

"Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for Internet and Society. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was the Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court."

Now I'm no Lessig, and haven't got his credentials nor reputation, but when someone of his caliber is attacked with basically the same accusations as those leveled against me, it certainly makes one wonder. Kudos in that case to Stephan Kinsella for being a stand-out among the patent lawyer crowd, and rising to his defense, as he did to mine.

Their tactics haven't changed. He too was accused of "misunderstanding" patent law, or the following -- "the trouble is he knows nothing of patent law, like most (but not all) law professors."

Here's what I wrote to Lessig:

"Dear Prof. Lessig,

I recently joined the ranks of those who are attacked by patent lawyers for treading on their turf, and saw that one of my patent attorney defenders defended you against similar attacks in the past.

My sin was commenting on gene patenting policy, from an ethical perspective. My book Who Owns You? The Corporate Gold Rush to Patent Your Genes (Wiley-Blackwell 2009) was trashed in a scathing review by a patent attorney with a biotech startup firm employment history (who appears not to have read critical parts of the book, but merely commented on the few cases I reference). My response to his "review" is at my blog, where Mr. Kinsella also chimes in in my defense.

Anyway, seeing that you went through this too made me feel much better. I'm in excellent company.

David Koepsell"


I received this quick response from Prof. Lessig:

"Congratulations! The hysteria of the patent bar shows we're onto something here. I look forward to the book."