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Fri Nov 30, 2012, 07:22 PM

Supreme Court to rule on patentability of human genes

Supreme Court to rule on patentability of human genes
Lower court ruled that genes can be patented once isolated from the body.

The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will consider a legal challenge to a patent on a breast cancer gene held by the firm Myriad Genetics. The case could have broad implications for the future of medical diagnostic techniques.

In March, the Supreme Court ordered an appeals court to reconsider a 2011 decision holding that genetic material could be patented once it has been "isolated" from the human body. At the time, the Supreme Court had just rejected patents on medical diagnostic techniques, and the high court wanted the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to re-consider its previous ruling in light of this new precedent.

In August, the Federal Circuit, which is responsible for hearing all patent law appeals, decided to stick with its previous ruling. It once again concluded that DNA sequences could be patented once they had been isolated from the human body. Now the Supreme Court will have a chance to check the Federal Circuit's work.
The Federal Circuit's ruling was decided by a 2-1 margin. The dissenting judge, William Bryson, compared isolating the DNA to snapping a leaf from a tree. "Prematurely plucking the leaf would not turn it into a human-made invention," Judge Bryson wrote in August. "That would remain true if there were minor differences between the plucked leaf and the fallen autumn leaf, unless those differences imparted 'markedly different characteristics' to the plucked leaf."

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The patent system needs SERIOUS reform.

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Reply Supreme Court to rule on patentability of human genes (Original post)
Vehl Nov 2012 OP
Thor_MN Nov 2012 #1
Vehl Nov 2012 #2

Response to Vehl (Original post)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 07:55 PM

1. Prior art... How does this affect the concept?


Say company A patents a gene... Couldn't company B get the patent invalidated by simply finding a person with the same gene that is older than the person from whom company A isolated it?

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Response to Thor_MN (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 30, 2012, 08:55 PM

2. If Tech patents awarded by the USPTO are any indication...

The USPTO sucks big time at checking for prior art...and even if prior art exists, a simple change of wording is more than enough for a patent to be awarded...thanks to today's broken patent system.

How did Apple end up with patents for rectangles with rounded corners and a grid of icons...not to mention certain touchscreen actions. They all have prior art. The way the Patent system works right now is that they award patents almost by default..and let companies fight over prior art in the courts..costing taxpayers billions..not to mention stifled innovation and bullied small-companies. For example, Grid of icons existed in both computer OS's and even mobile OS's prior to the Iphone. However Apple filed for a patent, got it...and is now suing the shit out of everyone else for this "innovation".

The mere fact that the Appeals Courts thought that basic human genes could be patent-able speaks volumes about the quality of the judges and the patent system in the country.

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