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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. Really disappointing to see a jurist using such language in front of the bar and the public. Disciplinary commission needs to look into this one. Moores hasn't been able to 'run' the court ever since she took the job. Sending teenage murder suspects out of state to 'therapy' instead of confinement; not hiring enough Probation Officers; constant attacks on staff from 'imboldened' juveniles; and moving DCS into the court instead of moving more of the juveniles on to DOC. Not to mention her 'taking time off' to serve in the military...which is admirable...but to bring the 'potty mouth' back from her tour(s) of duty? Can't recall Judge Payne or the previous Juvie judge having such a mouth. Sheesh!

  2. It is so great to see that the Grace of God, in Christ, and the pledge to protect our communities from enemies domestic can transcend the narrow selfishness of race-based identity. See the funeral of a Latino and Asian police officers, heros both, in this weekend's headlines, such as here: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/12/26/thousands-expected-for-wake-for-fallen-officer-rafael-ramos/

  3. Number one, only $1 was earmarked as punitives. Most of the $1,950,000 was earmarked as pain and suffering. But I will give you, JS, that sure does sound punitive! Number two, remittitur, for certain, but how does one unring the dinner bell that has now been sounded? Catholic school blood is in the sharktank.

  4. Hi, I had an auto accident on 12/26/2012 on I-65 near Lafayette, IN. I rear hit a semi truck. Meanwhile, I got a traffic ticket. I went to White Superior Court to have a hearing. I thought that I could win the case. I lost. I am not sure if you will be able to reverse the judgment in the White Superior Court. Meanwhile, I will try to let the insurance agency for the truck driver to pay the damages to my car. I wonder if your office is willing to handle the case. Thanks.

  5. Putting aside the question of how they got past the pastoral purpose/ 1st Amendment/ MSJ hurdle-- let me ask this: a million bucks in punitive damages? are you kidding me? absolutely ridiculous. Remittitur.

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