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Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal
SJR: 0.123

ISSN Imprimir: 2151-805X
ISSN En Línea: 2151-8068

Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal

DOI: 10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.2013007066
pages 87-96

Ethical and Policy Considerations in Patent Law for Medical Procedures

Trent A. Kirk
N/A

SINOPSIS

The U.S. Constitution grants an inventor exclusivity to their patent rights to promote the progress of science and useful arts. In particular, a patent provides an inventor the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, or importing the invention for a period of time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. Patents may be obtained for a variety of machines, articles of manufacture, compositions, and methods. Indeed, the Supreme Court has held that "anything under the sun that is made by man" is patentable with some limitations. Patents in the medical industry present unique issues in that some medical procedures that utilize patented technology further the health and well-being of society. Although there are some medical or surgical procedures that are immune from an infringement action, granting patents for such procedures creates an ethical conflict. Medical device manufacturers and inventors will argue that patents facilitate the development and innovation of new procedures that further the advancement of treatment while rewarding the inventors for their contributions. In the converse, health-care professionals will contend that preventing others from practicing particular methods of treating patients hinders their ability to provide the highest quality of care and sacrifices the integrity of the medical community. This article addresses these ethical concerns and the balance between patenting and furthering the well-being of society with respect to medical and surgical methods of treatment.


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