[LMB] Re:butterbug reproduction

Shalom Septimus druggist at pobox.com
Mon, 24 Dec 2001 13:47:08 -0500

On Sun, 23 Dec 2001 23:59:28 -0800, "Dan Tilque" <dtilque at nwlink.com>

(difficulty of bootlegging the butterbug fertility hormone)

>I agree, although potential competitors (other agri-biochem
>companies) might be able to do it.

Yeah, but it's a whole lot easier to patent a chemical than it is to
patent an organism, especially one with self-replicating capability.
Such a patent would block the competing agribusinesses from analyzing
it and making their own, and the backwoods farmers wouldn't have the
technical ability, even if they had the know-how.

Assuming Barrayaran patent law is similar to USAn law, patenting the
hormone would give them 17 years of exclusivity on the bugs (after
which time Bug 1.x would go generic). This would give Dr Borgos enough
time to come up with Bug 2.0, new and improved, which would use a
slightly different hormone (with a new patent, and 17 more years of
exclusivity). If he's really clever, he'd make the new hormone
backward-compatible, so it would work on Bug 1.x as well.

(Software industry meets pharmaceutical industry... ugh.)

I wonder what the legal position would be if the competition
synthesized a *new* hormone, chemically unrelated to the original,
which nevertheless worked? Can you patent the action of a chemical
rather than the structure? My guess is that you can't, or else we'd
have only one drug in each therapeutic category. Ergo, Enrique would
probably have to do some considerable research to ensure that only his
hormone would work and no other, which would probably be an expensive