In Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the Justices will decide whether human genes can be given a patent. “The court’s ruling will shape the course of scientific research and medical testing, and it may alter the willingness of businesses to invest in the expensive work of isolating and understanding genetic material,” the New York Times reported. “The decision may affect not only thousands of patented genes but also pharmaceuticals, vaccines and genetically modified crops.”
As National Law Journal correspondent Marcia Coyle explains in the video, Myriad is a Salt Lake City, Utah-based genetic research company that holds patents on two genes with mutations linked to a very high risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Those patents give Myriad exclusive control over diagnostic testing for those genes. However, Myriad’s claims have been under challenge for the past four years after a lawsuit was filed by “four national organizations of doctors, researchers, clinicians and other health professionals, along with six leading geneticists, two genetic counselors, two women’s health and breast cancer organizations and six patients who have been diagnosed with or are at risk of a hereditary version of breast or ovarian cancer,” according to the legal blog SCOTUSblog.
This a fascinating case in which it certainly appeared that the Justices were struggling to find a narrow way to rule. “Why should we jump in and decide the broadest possible question?” asked Justice Samuel Alito.
“What does Myriad get out of this deal?” asked Justice Elena Kagan. “Why shouldn’t we worry that Myriad or companies like it will just say, ‘Well, you know, we’re not going to do this work anymore’?”
“Why would a company incur massive investment if it cannot patent?” asked Justice Antonin Scalia.
This case may help better pinpoint where natural elements end and man-made inventions begin. Additional information about intellectual property litigation is available on our website, and Los Angeles patent infringement lawyer Robert G. Klein helps clients obtain, secure and protect patents. If you are seeking experienced legal representation in a patent issue, use the form located on this page to have our Los Angeles patent infringement attorney review your case or contact our firm today at (323) 653-3900.
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