Monday, October 19, 2009

CSI Miami episode "Bad Seed" portrays an evil patentee

The episode of CSI Miami titled "Bad Seed" (Season 8 Episode 5) has a patent holder on a recombinant corn seed who enforces the patent against a neighboring farmer. Said farmer can't afford a lawyer and has to sell some of his land to settle the patent infringement case. The initial contact of the CSI guy with gun-toting farmer illustrates how the farmer feels about this patent infringement.

HOWEVER, it seems that this recombinant corn has some side effects (as to botulism), and the CSI team goes to the farmer to get some evidence, allowing the farmer to get even, at least as to shafting the bio company.

The recombinant plot line is not unrelated to an episode of "Eleventh Hour" broadcast last year.
"Eleventh Hour" depicts evil university/industry cabal in biotech

However, "Bad Seed" includes a case of E. Coli poisoning, and has a bit of a twist in deep-sixing this part of the case because
#1. of laws against disparagement of food
#2. of a flagrant conflict-of-interest, wherein the government official who would investigate is an ex-VP of the guilty food/bio company

One notes that the bio company skates on all criminal charges.

However, the lawyer for the bio company, a Harvard law School graduate, allows the bio CEO to talk directly to Horatio, therein commenting about how 500 people eating has more value than one death. H. dutifully records the conversation, to be used in a later civil suit.

As to portrayals, the patentee comes off as a villainous predator, not unlike depictions in patent reform. The Harvard lawyer comes off as an arrogant fool, allowing his company to be laid low by his own hubris. And John Q. Public is not protected against either E. Coli in salad or against Frankenfood corn.

Well, Halloween and patent reform are coming.


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