Oh don't get me started on that.. I just _discovered_ water, so I'm going to patent it. That's no more absurd than getting a patent on a gene that you did not CREATE, you just DISCOVERED. You cannot patent helium or argon. You can patent a way to TEST for it, or a way to DO something with it, but you cannot patent something that naturally exists without your help. But somehow that's what a lot of the medical field is getting away with. It's ludicrous.
And yes, as someone with his name on at least one patent, I'm all for patent protection. But I agree, it should be for a reasonable, limited time. What length of time is "reasonable" is subjective of course (is 20 years long enough to recover a patent that is the result of USD$10B research? 25? 30? What about a patent that only cost USD$250K of research before figuring out something worth patenting?).