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November 21, 2014

Starz Denver Film Festival 2014 - The Patent Wars


Hannah Leonie Prinzler - 2014

Another documentary that's a first person journey, though without the sense of humor of, say, Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock. From the discovery that a human gene can be patented, and what that means, to travels from Germany, to the U.S. and India.

The history of patents begins with inventions - the lightbulb, the telephone, and somehow evolved into bits and pieces of nature, genes and seeds being the most common. The impact of a particular gene patented meant that a woman with a certain kind of cancer can only have a test available by the one company that has patented the gene, and if not covered by her insurance company, would have to pay a hefty fee for that test.

In India, there is the fight not only to farm certain kinds of rice, but also inexpensive ways to employ technology to do farming. There are also visits to those organizations that attempt to work on behalf of the common good, be it in terms of making information available, or in some way circumventing corporate greed.

A bit closer to home, James Dyson, he of the vacuum cleaners that carry his name, discusses the extraordinary amount of money he spent to patent his devices, as well as money spent on a patent infringement by Hoover.

Thought provoking stuff, to be sure. But there were times when I would have like some of the Teutonic sternness to have be modified with a little bit of Yankee humor.

Posted by peter at November 21, 2014 06:35 AM