#2. There's a Copyright on Your DNA
You can totally stake a copyright claim on the very things that define you as a human being, and we don't mean your shameful Internet browser history (seriously, dude, delete it) -- we're talking about your genes. In fact, it's estimated that around 20 percent of the genes we all share are already patented by companies.
"Who authorized these tits? Those are our breasts!"
How the hell is that possible? Well, it's argued that when a gene is removed from the body and isolated, it becomes a separate chemical entity that can be patented. You know, like when you take someone else's lamp from their house and isolate it, it automatically becomes yours. Then you rent that lamp for thousands of dollars to people trying to do cancer research.
You see, one of the patents someone holds is over a pair of fancy little genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2, which have been linked to both ovarian and breast cancer. These genes have existed for as long as there have been humans, but now the patent on them is owned by Myriad Genetics Inc., who've been adamantly defending it in court. We're sure that the fact that Myriad Genetics also owns the patent on the $3,000 test that detects these genes (and predicts if women are likely to get cancer) is entirely coincidental.
"That way, if they get a horrible, deadly illness, we win twice!"
The scary thing about being able to patent genes is that mapping or studying the human genome is probably humanity's best chance to cure cancer -- however, once a company holds a patent on a gene, they can prevent other people from studying it, testing it or so much as looking at it.
That's why in 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations representing 150,000 scientists challenged the patent, only to be shot down by a federal court. Even the freaking guy who discovered DNA thinks that patenting genes should be illegal -- he says someone actually suggested that he should patent the DNA helix way back in 1953, but he thought it was a ridiculous idea.
"You'd have to be a flaming, engorged sack of douchebag to put money ahead of human progress."
Meanwhile, Myriad Genetics argues that restricting the ability to patent genes would actually stifle research, because if you can't make yourself insanely rich discovering new genes, then what's the point of even trying?
#1. Cops Sue People for Using Their Trademarks ... Even Other Cops
Nowadays, even the police can be trademarked. No, we're not talking about the '80s band here -- law enforcement agencies can absolutely sue the shit out of anyone who tries to use their image without permission, or refuses to pay up enough to acquire said permission, or simply has no idea that displaying some guys in a certain uniform outside their store would result in a lawsuit.
For instance, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have been enforcing their trademark on the image of the classic Mountie uniform since 1995, not just in Canada, but all over the world, and with the occasional help of Disney (because what the hell, those guys pretty much look like cartoon characters already). The objective is to prevent the tarnishing of the RCMP image by way of stuff like Mountie-based professional wrestling or pornography.
Sports World Cards
This one could go either way.
However, this also affects Canadian stores that sell the exact type of innocent Mountie mugs and key chains you'd expect to find while visiting the country. Don't worry, though: The RCMP is more than happy to allow those stores to continue selling merchandise ... as long as they're willing to hand over 10 percent of everything they make.
Meanwhile, the New York City Police Department has gotten so protective about their "brand" that they've sent cease-and-desist letters to everyone from NYPD-themed restaurants to nonprofit associations run by retired NYPD officers. That's right: They're going after their own future selves, which we think was the plot of TimeCop.
Or, more awesomely, Terminator 2. If you think about it.
Apparently, the problems started when a fundraiser organized by a retired cop all the way in Florida used the NYPD shield on its flyers -- soon, retiree clubs all over the country got cease-and-desist letters from the department letting them know that they could no longer use the logo on their websites or their member T-shirts or their anything. And if the former cops refused to stop using the same shield many of them wore for decades? Then it's "Thank you very much for your service, see you in court."
And they totally mean it: In 2005, they went after an interstate pizzeria chain themed around the New York police, where the servers presumably speak in angry Brooklyn accents and begin macing you in the face if you take too long to order. Even though none of the pizzerias were actually in New York, the NYPD objected to the use of their badge and demanded a logo redesign and a legal disclaimer across all posters stating that the restaurant had absolutely no affiliation to the department.
"Taste of New York" means that for an extra $5, a hobo spits in your milkshake.
And for reasons why we need copyright laws, check out 5 Great Men Who Built Their Careers on Plagiarism and The 5 Most Famous Musicians Who Are Thieving Bastards.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Skull It: An Infomercial from the He-Man Universe.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how you can safely use your DNA without infringing on copyright law.
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