I'm a few days late to this, but Duke Law School Professor James Boyle has written an insightful opinion piece outlining his concerns about the types of patents researchers are seeking for synthetic biology research. He points out the "astounding" simplicity of the patents being sought:
In an article written for the journal PloS Biology in 2007, my colleague Arti Rai and I explored the likely legal future of synthetic biology. We found reason to worry that precisely because synthetic biology looks both like software writing and genetic engineering, it might end up combining the expansive patent law aspects of both those technologies, with the troubling prospect of strong monopolies being created over the basic building blocks of science itself. Some of the patents being filed are astoundingly basic, the equivalent of patenting Boolean algebra right at the birth of computer science. With courts now reconsidering both business method and perhaps software patents, and patents over human genes, the future is an uncertain one.
The piece, which was originally published in the Financial Times, follows earlier criticism from Nobel laureate John Sulston, PhD, that such patents could be "extremely damaging."
Previously: Bioengineering professor Drew Endy testifies at congressional hearing on synthetic biology, Image of the Week: Synthetic M. mycoides bacteria, The quest to create artificial life and Venter's "synthetic life" is a different disc in an old player (but it's still music)
Via Boing Boing