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Robin Feldman & John Newman

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Copyright at the Bedside: Should We Stop the Spread?

Doctors and researchers are quietly acquiescing to the demands of those asserting copyright in medical tests, for fear of becoming entwined in lengthy and expensive legal proceedings that could result in a costly judgment. Such fear could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy if it prompts the creation of an industry norm for licensing medical tests. Courts and legislators have been known to defer to industry custom, even when they harbor some doubts about the wisdom of the underlying logic. The challenging thread running through all of this is that medical tests of this kind stand at the boundary between patent and copyright, raising the mind-bending question of how to conceptualize a process, which is the purview of patent, when that process consists of nothing more than words, which is normally the purview of copyright.