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Shining a light on patents

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Paved with good intentions

Nevertheless, there is hope that the IP debate will reach hitherto incomprehensible levels of maturity in 2006. Indeed, this was the year in which the flosser dweebs found willing and responsible parents in the form of the international Adelphi commission of eggheads, whose IP charter deserves to be adopted as the manifesto for a rational return to debate in 2006.

Meanwhile, there is still the leeching weed to contend with; a herbicide-resistant superweed, as it happens. It was discovered at the start of the year to have been cross-fertilised by GM crops in British trials, reaffirming a similar discovery in Canada. Presumably, someone now has a patent on the weed's unwitting genes. Just as they already have patents on a fifth of you, me and everyone else.

There could be serious repercussions for all of us if the flossers fail to rally round the sensible example set by the Adelphi commission.

Picking our brains for profit

Let's assume, for the sake of bringing this retrospective to a suitably puerile end, that a good portion of the patents being stamped on the human genome cover areas of the brain. It's safe to assume few corporations would sooner be seeking to exploit the money earning potential of the human foot.

As the precedent for the patenting of ideas has already been set in the US, and of facts in Europe, it shouldn't be too difficult for someone rich, greedy and cynical enough to acquire enough patents in all three areas to own your thoughts too.

George Orwell, another disillusioned communist, was right about the direction in which society was heading. But his thought police are more likely to be a tool of patent lawyers than political dictators.

The patent owners of your ideas will charge them to your credit card at 1 cent a minute, making it unlikely that society's less advantaged will ever make it to college, even if they could pay the fees when they got there.

The only way anyone could avoid getting themselves into considerable amounts of debt over brain activity would be to spend all day watching Days of Our Lives reruns or Richard & Judy. Either that or take a job in a call-centre. ®

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