Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Your eyes probably glaze over at 'intellectual property,' but it's time to wake up and pay attention"

That was one line from John M. Simpson's op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle on California's Proposition 71. Some other interesting text was:

The biotech industry is lining up to take Prop. 71 money and wants as few strings as possible attached. Speaking to biotech executives at a conference his firm organized in San Francisco, Steve Burrill, chairman of the venture capital and merchant banking firm Burrill & Co., described the capital funding being provided by taxpayers in California and a few other states as "almost like free money" compared to commercial venture capital. That phrase is a tipoff to the lack of any sense of obligation. Clearly defined IP rules, governing such things as price and accessibility by underserved populations, will ensure that businesses meet fair obligations to the public when they take the public's "free money."

The meeting in question is the Burrill meeting of March 14, 2006, the same meeting at which WARF was making its patent royalty demands against CIRM.

Simpson also wrote:

Most of the media fuss surrounding stem-cell research has been over political and social issues surrounding the use of fertilized human eggs. But it's the boring, really technical IP regulations that could mean whether or not you will get treatment someday.

In New Jersey, for example, the state senate votes have revolved around the ethics issues of the use of embryonic stem cells. In this partisan vote, the Republicans lost. In New Jersey, to a greater extent than in California, there has not been significant discussion of the patent issues. Californians are more aware of the tax-exempt bond/patent royalty issue than are New Jerseyans. Beyond intellectual property, there is another issue. These treatments will require FDA approval. There is not yet an approved IND for an embryonic stem cell treatment of humans. "Whether or not a human will get treatment someday" (like within the next ten years) requires attention to IP details, a realistic post-Hwang assessment of the state of the embryonic stem cell art, and a sober analysis of how long working through the FDA is going to take.


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