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Ugly Sweater Contest Winner

Folks in downtown Arkadelphia were giving the members of the Chaney Firm some strange looks around lunchtime today. On the line during the Ugly Sweater Contest was a $25 gift card to local coffee shop Java Primo. Here are all the contestants:

There's a pretty hilarious bonus video as well:

Here are the results of the firm vote:

Contest Results

Who do you think should have won?

The Daily Show on Human Gene Patents

From the Daily Show, host John Oliver and deranged millionaire John Hodgman discuss human gene patents:

All kidding aside, this clip discusses a serious issue of patent law. The very first patent law, 35 U.S.C. § 101, says: "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor[.]" This doesn't include laws of nature (like E=mc²) or discoveries of natural things (like genes or a type of diamond). Patenting a gene would be like patenting a leaf off a rare, exotic tree — perhaps it took work to locate it, but the tree species itself had already been there for thousands of years. 

Many large companies, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, apply for thousands of patents every year. This is one reason why prescription drugs and medical testing devices are so expensive. Unfortunately for consumers, many of these patents are of questionably quality because they cover slightly modified uses for old drugs or don't cover patentable subject matter.  If low-quality patents like human gene patents can be weeded out, perhaps we can ease the crisis of the ballooning costs of health care in this country. 

What do you think about patents on laws of nature and discoveries of natural things like genes? 


Stephen Colbert on Copyright Law

Stephen Colbert weighed in on a current Supreme Court case that will address an important question of copyright law known as the “first sale doctrine.” The case involves the intersection of quick global travel and laws written before the age of cheap international shipping. Here’s the clip:

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