Court rules on genetic patents

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a ruling July 29 in a case that raised fundamental questions about the patentability of human genes.

In Association for Molecular Pathology, et. al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et. al., No. 10-1406, the American Civil Liberties Union and plaintiffs challenged patents on two breast cancer genes, collectively known as BRCA1/2. A judge in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, ruled last year that the defendants – Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation – were not entitled to patent protection for the genes. In July, the federal appeals court reversed that decision.

Appeals court Judge Alan Lourie wrote that Myriad’s composition claims to isolated DNA molecules are patent-eligible, as the isolated molecules are not found in nature in that state. The appeals court also reversed the District Court’s decision that Myriad’s method claims to screening potential cancer therapeutics via changes in cell growth rates is a patent-ineligible scientific principle. But the court affirmed the District Court’s decision that Myriad’s claim to comparing or analyzing DNA sequences are patent ineligible, as the process requires no transformative steps and only abstract mental steps.

While the three judges were able to reach a majority opinion in the case, two judges wrote individual opinions that shed light on the difficulties in determining the boundaries of patent-eligibility.

Judge Kimberly Moore concurred in part, writing, “The patents in this case might well deserve to be excluded from the patent system, but that is a debate for Congress to resolve. I therefore decline to extend the ‘laws of nature’ exception to include isolated DNA sequences.”

Judge William Bryson concurred in part, and dissented in part. “…We are therefore required to decide whether the process of isolating genetic material from a human DNA molecule makes the isolated genetic material a patentable invention,” he wrote. “The court concludes that it does; I conclude that it does not.”•

Rehearing "The merits of medical patents" IL July 6-19, 2011


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.