Letter: Patents unlock gene secrets

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The Independent Online
Patents unlock gene secrets

Sir: One thing that many commentators on the debate about genetic patenting (Letters, 14, 15, 16 July) appear to have missed: the reason why patents exist. In return for a time-limited period of protection, during which the patent holder has the sole right to exploit the invention, the inventor places the information about the invention into the public domain.

Those opposing the granting of gene patents should reflect on the fact that in 20 or so years' time, these patents will expire and then anyone will be able to use the technology. This is better than having the knowledge locked away unused, or kept commercially secret, or, worse still, never discovered in the first place because no funds are available for the basic research.

TONY FUELL

Executive Director

The British Institute of Regulatory Affairs

London E14

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