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Old 05-18-2011, 11:13 AM   #8
wraithnot
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Location: SF bay area

Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 12
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As a fellow scientist and tinkerer, I completely agree with you. However, I once heard a biotech CEO address a similar point from a completely different angle. He basically said that if they gave out too much information then other researchers would use the information to beat his company to the punch by making key improvements, patent those improvements, and force his company to pay to license the patents.

The implication was that most modern patents are based on fairly predictable progress rather than completely unexpected breakthroughs. And the game is to figure things out more quickly than anyone else and get the key patents. So the situation is probably not going to change unless the bar is raised for how "non-obvious" something has to be in order to be patented.

Another aspect is that universities are getting far more interested in patents and the money they can bring in. A great deal of research sponsored by government grants is patented these days so it's not just private companies that are involved. I have some first hand experience in this- I was an inventor on a patent application in graduate school and I got a cut of the proceeds when it was licensed!

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Originally Posted by GW_OK View Post
I know, right? I think anybody could, with time and money, figure out just about everything "proprietary". Who are they really keeping the secrets from? And nickloman's comment on scientists being tinkerers is dead on. Let us play with your stuff, sequencing companies. Let us make it better.
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