Microsoft tries to patent study of evolution

Seriously. It was recently discovered that, two years ago, Microsoft filed a patent for clustering phylogenetics methods, which have existed for years, and are currently in use by just about anyone who does evolutionary biology. The filing has been compared to attempting to patent multiplication tables, and has the phylogenetics community on edge.

This may seem like it falls well outside the range of Microsoft’s typical interests, but the company appears to be taking an interest in bioinformatics. In June, Microsoft bought assets of Rosetta Biosoftware from Merck. Microsoft intended to integrate Rosetta’s software with its own Amalga Life Sciences platform, which is used for research at drug companies and universities.

Hopefully, a patent with this much prior art will not be approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office because the methods it details are so common—and, in fact, a reader noted that it has received a “nonfinal rejection” from the USPTO. That still allows the patent to be resubmitted in a modified form, however, so the biomedical community may want to follow it carefully.


Posted 3346 days ago in Geek

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