Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Morning Links

Assorted content for your Sunday reading.

- Michael Geist notes that even as the Harper Cons have done nothing but hand more free money to big pharma through ever more generous patent giveaways, the Supreme Court of Canada has offered a reminder of the bargain underlying our patent system:
The Supreme Court was seemingly in no mood for such games as it reminded the parties that the patent system was based on a bargain that Pfizer had failed to meet. In a paragraph that is likely to be quoted for many years, the court stated:
"The patent system is based on a 'bargain,' or quid pro quo: the inventor is granted exclusive rights in a new and useful invention for a limited period in exchange for disclosure of the invention so that society can benefit from this knowledge. This is the basic policy rationale underlying the Act. The patent bargain encourages innovation and advances science and technology."
Disclosure is therefore a crucial part of the patent bargain. The court clarified that this involves not only a description of the invention and how it works, but rather a much more practical level of disclosure "to enable a person skilled in the art or the field of the invention to produce it using only the instructions contained in the disclosure."

In this case, the court found that Pfizer failed to provide sufficient disclosure, since the pharmaceutical giant "obscured the true invention." Pfizer argued that this should not result in invalidating the patent, but a unanimous court found no other alternative. The immediate effect is that the Viagra patent is therefore voided in Canada, which will allow for generic substitutes.
Innovation is a laudable goal, yet the court has reminded Canadians that it is only part of the patent equation. Pharmaceutical companies will undoubtedly continue to lobby for more extensive rights before Parliamentary committees and in trade agreements, but the policy focus from governments and courts should be on ensuring that the "patent bargain" remains intact.
- But then, Jesse McLaren writes that the Cons' priorities have nothing to do with the public-interest side of any bargain.

- And Jeffrey Simpson highlights just a few more examples of the Cons' choice to hide their anti-social decisions behind a wall of secrecy. [Update: Though PLG is right to note that Simpson is far too willing to declare there's nothing the media can do in the face of the Cons' obfuscation.]

- Finally, Dr. Dawg discusses how smart people wind up voting for anti-intelligence politicians:
This, too, is telling, and a perfect summing-up:
…Watching him being cross-examined by Messrs. Shiller and Caplan - who once used the word “lacuna” in his closing submission, then, for the rest of us not so smart as he is, added helpfully, “that gap” — was a brilliant reminder of why once upon a time, I marked an X by Rob Ford’s name.
Big city lawyers with their fancy words. They think we’re stupid. Yeah? By God, we’ll give them stupid.

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