Thursday, June 13, 2013

Unanimous Supreme Court Decision: Gene Patents Illegal

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that patents cannot be issued for “naturally occurring” substances. In the case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Myriad had claimed that the act of isolating the two genes that indicate a higher risk of breast cancer justified the company receiving a patent on said genes.

The court did, however, allow patents for cDNA (complementary DNA) but stated that they were not declaring that cDNA was entitled to be patented—just that right now there is no legal reason for forbidding it. This is a boon to biotech companies, who will be able to patent some products and therefore, receive some compensation for their research and hard work. However, as the court did not hold that cDNA is legally eligible for patents, this leaves the door open for Congress and the patent office to close this exception.

Gene patent decision: In Plain English

Somewhere, Michael Crichton is grinning broadly.

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