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Doctors Fear Copyright Crackdown on Medical Procedures

January 04, 2012

January 4, 2012 (Mountain View, CA) – Mitchell Zimmerman, Chair of the Copyright Group at Fenwick & West, was recently quoted in the San Francisco Examiner article "Doctors Fear Copyright Crackdown on Medical Problems."

The article examines the concern within the healthcare community that enforcement of copyrights for medical procedures and testing could pose a roadblock to medical advancement as well as hospital operations.

While there have been recent instances of copyright enforcement within the medical community, Mitchell Zimmerman says that the issue is not simply black and white.

Zimmerman commented that while copyright can protect the written word of a test, it does not protect the idea behind it. He went on to say that the copyright holder of a written test does not give them a monopoly over tests for that particular medical condition, nor should it prevent others from pursuing new ideas.

"It is a borderline issue when you have a work that involves ideas like how do you diagnose a medical condition," Zimmerman said. "It's borderline whether a particular way to do that is protected by copyright." He also said that it is questionable whether very basic tests that would lack alternatives could even be protected under a copyright.