Scientific discoveries are not the same as inventions Do you agree? Substantiate your answer.
Invention makes or develops something that did not exist. Discovery finds real (non-abstract) things that are already exsistant Patentable inventions must — under conventional patent law — be new, useful and involve an ‘inventive step’. In contrast, it is generally accepted that utilizing something that already exists in nature is a ‘discovery’, and is therefore not patentable.
Drawing an appropriate boundary between un-patentable natural phenomena and patentable inventions is crucial in preventing the patent laws from unduly restricting access to fundamental scientific discoveries. Some would argue that, particularly in the U.S., patents are being issued that purport to claim a novel product or process but that, in effect, encompass any practical application of a fundamental biological principle.
Examples include gene patents, which Congress is considering banning, and patents relating to biological correlations and pathways, such as the patents at issue in the headlinegrabbing LabCorp v. Metabolite and Ariad v. Eli Lilly litigations. In view of the mounting concern, it seems likely that government and/or the courts will address the issue, and perhaps substantially shift the boundary.
The question of what should and should not be patentable subject matter has spawned a number of battlegrounds in recent years, setting against each other those in each area supporting patentability, claiming that patents would cause increased innovation and public good, against opponents with views that patentability was being sought only for private good but would do public harm.
Flashpoints have included the patenting of naturally occurring biological material; genetic sequences; stem cells; “traditional knowledge”; programs for computers; business methods.
In March 2010, a federal district court judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that purified DNA sequences and the inventions using them are unpatentable. As has been discussed Judge Sweet relied entirely upon Supreme Court precedent and ignored contrary case law of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to conclude that isolated DNA is of the same fundamental quality as natural DNA and is thus unpatentable under section 101 of the Patent Act; and that the method claims of the patents were abstract mental processes that were also unpatentable. His rationale is controversial and his ruling has been appealed to the Federal Circuit.
In the process, different jurisdictions have come to different views as to what should be allowed and what should not.
Patents on business methods have proven to be a particularly controversial type of statutory subject matter. They have been criticized because the patents granted are perceived as being too broad, perhaps due to the difficulty in searching for prior art and recruiting suitably qualified patent examiners who have historically had a science background rather than a business background. Patent applications for business methods are also subject to delays in prosecution at the United States Patent and Trademark Office and other patent office