Friday, November 20, 2009

Who Owns You: Review in Choice

(this review made it into this month's "Editors' Picks" as well)

Koepsell, David. Who owns you?: The corporate gold-rush to patent your genes. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 187p index afp; ISBN 9781405187312, $79.95; ISBN 9781405187305 pbk, $24.95. Reviewed in 2009 dec CHOICE.

Via reflective consideration of secondary sources, attorney and philosopher Koepsell (Technology Univ. of Delft, The Netherlands) explores economic, ethical, legal, and scientific questions raised by the patenting of one-fifth of the human genome. After two chapters that provide a usefully comprehensive introduction, subsequent chapters address his ontologically informed ethical approach; the evolution of genetic and genomic research; the role of DNA in distinctions among species and individuals; and the legal evolution of patents regarding genes and other natural substances. Koepsell advocates a more limited scope for genome-related patents on the basis of intellectual property case law. He argues against the existing state of genome patent law, and further argues that existing genome patent protections harm science and economic innovation. This readable book covers a lot of ground, but it could benefit from greater incorporation of existing economic, legal, and philosophical inquiry. Recent legal decisions in Europe and North America suggest that Koepsell's emphasis on the demonstration of both an innovation and a commercial use ultimately may prove central to future jurisprudence in cases involving these patents. Koepsell's timely book is highly recommended for all reading levels. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels. -- C. H. Blake, James Madison University

Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.

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