生命与利润之争

发自纽约——美国最高法院最近开始审议一起案件——该案件突显出了由知识产权所引发的深层次问题。最高法院必须回答下面这个问题:人类基因——也就是你我的基因——能被别人申请专利吗?换句话说,法律是否应该允许某人持有某种专利,类似检测他人体内是否拥有一组显示其有高于50%的概率罹患乳腺癌的基因。

对那些知识产权的门外汉来说,答案是很显然的:不可以。拥有自己的基因。一个公司也许最多能拥有以基因测试为基础的知识产权;而且因为用来发展该测试的研发工作可能花费巨大,公司可以适当地对测试收费。

但美国犹他州的麦利亚德基因公司(Myriad Genetics)主张公司应该拥有更多的权利。它声称拥有所有检测与乳腺癌相关的两个关键基因是否存在的专利,并且开始无情地强制执行这种权利,尽管其测试效果还不如耶鲁大学愿意提供的另一套成本更低的测试。其后果是悲剧性的:对高危病人进行彻底且负担得起的测试可以挽救生命。反之对这种测试的限制则是以生命为代价的。麦利亚德是典型的将利润置于其它所有价值观——包括人的生命——之上的美国公司。

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