Parthasarathy takes aim at 'out of step' patent system, calls for reforms
Shobita Parthasarathy has called for serious patent system reforms in a July 31 article she authored in The Conversation. Such reforms, she said, could "include increasing opportunities for the public to participate in patent decision-making, allowing more legal and bureaucratic challenges on behalf of the public interest, and incorporating more emphasis on ethical and socioeconomic implications into our patent and innovation policies."
Parthasarathy, an associate professor of public policy, is an expert in the politics of science and technology, particularly genetics and biotechnology. When the ACLU led a lawsuit against Myriad Genetics over its patents on human genes in 2009, she authored a declaration of support, which was cited extensively by federal Judge Robert Sweet and helped pave the way for a unanimous June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court opinion invalidating gene patents.
At the heart of Parthasarathy's article is the proposition that the current patent system of the United States is simply "out of step with today's citizens." With the rise of technocratic knowledge and authority in the public debate, she interrogated the underlying assumptions around who does and does not have standing within the patent system--an approach she readily brings into the classroom environment, as well. Placing the current debate within its historical context, she added, "it is worth observing that while the US system was initially conceived as a democratic improvement upon the European systems of the time, today's pan-European system is far ahead of its US counterpart in terms of both public engagement and its attention to the implications that citizens care about."
July 31, 2015 marks the 225th anniversary of the first U.S. patent issued. Read the full article, "An early expression of democracy, the US patent system is out of step with today’s citizens," here.
--By Nick Pfost (MPP '15)
Shobita Parthasarathy is an associate professor of public policy. Her research focuses on the governance of emerging science and technology, particularly those that have uncertain environmental, social, ethical, political, and health implications. Much of her research focuses on politics and policy related to genetics and biotechnology. Her work is usually cross-national in scope, and thus far she has focused on the United States, Europe, and India. She is the author of multiple articles and a book entitled Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care (MIT Press 2007; paperback 2012). Her second book, expected in late 2016, explores the controversies over life form patents in the United States and Europe.