Myriad Case Decided: Natural Human Genes Not Patentable In US

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By Brittany Ngo for Intellectual Property Watch

The United States Supreme Court came to a decision yesterday on the case of Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., striking down Myriad’s patent on isolating human genes from the bloodstream.

The reasoning of the Court was that Myriad did not create something new, rather just extracted existing genetic material found in human blood. The Court did say that Myriad could be able to obtain a patent for creating synthetic forms of the genetic material, since they do not exist in nature.

In its 13 June decision, the Court held that “a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated, but synthetic complementary DNA (“cDNA”) is patent eligible because it is not naturally occurring.”

In the statement released by Myriad Genetics, the company said it believed “the Court appropriately upheld our claims on cDNA, and underscored the patent eligibility of our method claims, ensuring strong intellectual property protection for our BRACAnalysis test moving forward.”

The Court noted in its decision that the Myriad case “does not involve method claims, patents on new applications of knowledge about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, or the patentability of DNA in which the order of the naturally occurring nucleotides has been altered.”

[Note: Intellectual Property Watch will publish a detailed story on this decision shortly.]

Brittany Ngo is currently completing her Master’s in Health Policy and Global Health at the Yale School of Public Health and previously obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts in Economics from Georgetown University. Through her studies she has developed an interest in health-related intellectual property issues. She is a summer intern at Intellectual Property Watch.

Creative Commons License"Myriad Case Decided: Natural Human Genes Not Patentable In US" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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