When patent law stands in the way of saving lives

By Brett Davidson and Els Torreele

, by Open Society Foundations

A New York Times column from early July provided an unusual if cynical insight into the “a la carte” corporate lobby influence on American legislation. While the United States is among the world’s strongest proponents of ever-increasing intellectual property protections and their worldwide enforcement, Wall Street banks have been able to carve out an exception that would allow them to copy business methods and processes, including financial products and services they deem important for their highly profitable businesses, such as automated methods for making digital copies of checks, or specialized financial and trading software. Proponents of the provision, which is buried in a bill aimed at strengthening the U.S. patent system that is currently before Congress, say banks should not be held hostage by companies that hold "business method" patents, and argue that such patents should never have been granted in the first place.

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