Dr Katerina Sideri - Patenting diagnostics and the future of personalised medicine: Private property and the romance of the public domain

Katerina Sideri

Katerina Sideri teaches IP law and strategy at the University of Crete and the University of Cyprus. In the past she was associate research fellow at the Centre for Sociolegal Studies at the University of Oxford and lecturer in IP law at the University of Exeter. She earned her PhD at LSE. Her research interests are in the areas of Intellectual Property Law and Knowledge Commons, Biomedical Patents and Public Policy, Deliberative Governance and Bioethics. She has published widely in these and related areas including Bioproperty Biomedicine and Deliberative Governance. 

Dr Katerina Sideri

After a series of decisions by the US supreme court it seems that most diagnostics  lie outside the boundaries of patent-eligible subject matter, as the court said that such patents claim (and attempt to monopolise) laws of nature. Eligible subject matter is a fascinating subject denoting the appropriate bounds of intellectual property protection for scientific insights and innovations. It is about what can be turned into private property and what is non-property, or, if we go back to Roman law, it is about what cannot be privately owned and what is common property and property open to all by operation of the law. The talk will concentrate on the US to discuss is the logic of eligible subject matter. I will argue that whether a scientific product is patentable is a matter of patent law’s internal ‘legal’ logic , whose basis can be found in the theories justifying property and  which of course encompasses sociological, economic, and philosophical elements, hence its contextuality.  Yet, extending legal rights to one type of scientific research product that we withhold from another affects how societies innovate. Moreover, placing a resource to the public domain by force of law does not automatically guarantee that it will be equally exploited by all ( the romance of the commons),  as  knowledge, power, and ability render some better able than others to exploit a commons. The talk will examine these propositions to discuss the future of innovation in perosnalised medicine.