Patents are important.
Just like musicians, writers, and the like use copyright laws to protect their work so that they get paid. Just like sports teams not wanting you to use their footage/merchandising without their getting paid. Scientists also like to get paid – patents are one way that can happen.
When scientists work for large companies, the large companies like to get paid for paying the scientists they employ to do research. The Supreme Court yesterday said that human genes are part of nature and cannot be patented. This decision has positive and negative sides, and most of what I have read says it will free up the technology and spur research. The other side is that if the benefit of the research to the researcher is diluted, this could retard research efforts. I am obviously not the smartest of researchers, as is demonstrated by the fact that I often chase after questions that yield me no monetary benefit. I think most researchers are driven by the questions. However, maybe the smartest of researchers choose questions based on financial gain? I don’t know.
Another important aspect of this decision is the Supreme Court is that they took the time to differentiate the types of more valuable/synthesized genes used in biotechnology/ agricultural crop engineering as able to be patented. Of course this leads to dichotomy where some life (or life products) are and some are not able to be patented. I assume further litigation will be required to further nail down exactly what can be patented.
The Levi-Strauss patent that lead to the development of blue jeans was unaffected by this decision, as the court was only considering genes that start with the letter ‘G’.
I hope you find this useful.