Judge Throws Out Human Gene Patents Linked To CancersThe New York Times: A federal judge Monday threw out two patents on human genes that are linked to breast and ovarian cancer. "The decision, if upheld, could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property."
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation at the Cardozo School of Law in New York challenged the patents last year and argued that the genes fall outside the realm of things that can be patented. "Myriad Genetics, the company that holds the patents with the University of Utah Research Foundation, asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that the work of isolating the DNA from the body transforms it and makes it patentable. Such patents, it said, have been granted for decades; the Supreme Court upheld patents on living organisms in 1980. In fact, many in the patent field had predicted the courts would throw out the suit." The judge said the patents involved a "law of nature" that were improperly granted when he threw them out (Schwartz and Pollack, 3/29). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.