Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

Perfecting Patent Prizes

First Page



When anthrax attacks recently led to a run on the patented antibiotic drug Cipro, politicians and commentators suggested that the government consider purchasing generic alternatives. Some used the occasion to illustrate what they perceived as a broader problem with patent protection: that pharmaceutical companies seeking profits would not allow the sick to obtain access to needed medications. The argument repeated a familiar refrain in the intellectual property debate, as a long history of articles has inquired whether society would be better off with no patent or copyright law at all. Even recently, commentators have questioned the broad scope of intellectual property protection, arguing that business methods should not be patent able or that copyright terms should be shorter than Congress has dictated. The antiprotection advocates have won some victories, but the Patent and Trademark Office does business largely as before, or even as never before.