Starting in the 13th century, this book explores how patents have been used as an economic protectionist tool, developing and evolving to the point where thousands of patents have been ultimately granted, not over inventions, but over isolated or purified biological materials. DNA, invented by no man and once thought to be 'free to all men and reserved exclusively to none', has become cartelised in the hands of multinational corporations in the 20th century. This book questions whether the continuing grant of patents can be justified when they are now used to suppress, rather than promote, research and development in the life sciences.
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