>U.S. patent law, for example, covers only new,
>useful, and non-obvious devices or processes. See Patent Act ss. 101-103.
The real trouble is the PEOPLE in the patent office. They had/have no great clue about their purpose in civil society.
What is new about a human gene that has existed for 50,000 to 1000,000 years?
What is non-obvious? I mean, non-obvious to whom? To a patent clerk? or to some one with an IQ >135 who has made a serious study of the issue?
What is a process? Is software a process? I don't think so, but software patents exist. Is mathematics a process? Apparently not, you can't patent a mathematical proof. But isn't computing algorithmic?
The real key to preventing these people from locking up the world of ideas is to establish prior art: if ever you have a nice algorithm, give it away into the public domain. Then it is forever free, even under the present laws.