Friday, March 31, 2006

Googling the Genome

Glynn Moody reports that Google are the unlikely winners of a biopiracy award, in the category 'Biggest Threat to Genetic Privacy'.

The US government and other usual suspects are cited under various awards but one I had not heard about was the 'Biggest Tiny Claim On Nature.' The site says the nanotechnology (chemistry) company Nanosys Inc. have a US patent on ‘metal-oxide nanorods’ (United States Patent Nos. 5897945, 5,997,832 and 6036774, if you're really interested) covering over a third of the elements in the periodic table.

Though the US Patent Office list two of these patents (Nos. 5897945 and 6036774) under the names Lieber; Charles M. (Lexington, MA); Yang; Peidong (Somerville, MA) from Harvard University; and no. 5,997,832 under Lieber; Charles M. (Lexington, MA); Wong; Eric (Cambridge, MA). Professor Lieber is on Nanosys' Scientific Advisory Board but that doesn't mean he has assigned his patents to the company.

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