Friday, 30 November 2012

Supreme Court To Decide Patentability of Human Genes

On November 30, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Assn for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., No. 12-398.  In that case, the plaintiffs challenge the eligibility of Myriad’s patents covering isolated human gene sequences corresponding to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which when mutated are associated with a high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, and diagnostic processes using the genes. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in August that Myriad’s patent claims covering isolated genes were patent-eligible under Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus, Inc., 566 U.S. ___, 132 S.Ct. 1289 (2012). See Assn. for Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 689 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 16, 2012).

The Court's grant of certiorari is limited to a single question presented in the plaintiffs’ petition:
“1. Are human genes patentable?” 

1 comment:

Tim Roberts said...

What is a human gene?

Is it a sequence of DNA (a functional unit of heredity) that has been isolated from a human being? Or is it one that could be so isolated? In that case, is a gene that could be isolated from a human being (but actually has been isolated from a bacterium or a great ape - or synthesised from scratch) a human gene or not?

Is it too much to hope that the Court will refrain from commenting on the patentability of non-human genes?