A growing plague on patents

In the middle of the Apple Samsung battle you have to wonder whether patents have become so abstracted from the realities of research and invention that they are no longer doing their job.

The concept of protecting ideas and innovation by legal means dates back to antiquity. But many of our existing laws are under strain, their suitability and ultimate purpose called into question. A key battleground on this front is the issue of patents which are being snapped up by companies for offensive and defensive dominance.

Justice Nicholas in the Federal Court in Sydney is currently hearing a patent case in which Cancer Voices Australia is challenging a patent owned by Myriad Genetics relating to gene mutations that cause women to be more susceptible to breast cancer.

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