(thread, 1/3) I posted something about the US Patent Office's proposed new standards (which it seems they're already using), and how it's going to expand what Google can claim as property and limit what medical procedures are in the public domain.
(2/3) Abstract ideas and laws of nature are not patentable. For example, if you discover that a drug causes a spike in some chemical in the blood, you can't patent that fact---and you can't patent a test whose sole content is that you measure that chemical and infer dosage from that.
So, the USPTO is trying to define these exceptions out of existence. The new conditions for disallowing a patent are so narrow that you'd only be barred from patenting the most blatant attempts.
(3/3) You may not care about software patents (though you should, unless you work for Google, in which case congratulations). But the mandate that medical procedures can't count under the prohibition on patents for natural laws plus trival step is a massive land grab. A lot of procedures, tests, &c. that would have sold at generic prices are now going to sell at monopolist prices.
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