Courts Seems Unlikely to Stop Patents on Your Genes

July 22, 2012
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Debate over patents of human genes likely to continue.

Last week, a federal appeals court again heard oral arguments on whether a company can patent human genes. Association for Molecular Pathology v U.S Patent and Trademark Office was first discussed by TeenJury last year.  The federal government had argued that Myriad Genetics, Inc. illegally patented acts of nature by claiming ownership of two genes that are linked to cancer.  This same court had ruled in favor of Myriad, but the Supreme Court later instructed the appeals court to reconsider its verdict.  Since the initial appeal, the Supreme Court ruled in a different case, Mayo v Prometheus, stating that companies cannot patent acts of nature.  The same three-judge panel heard last week’s case.  The government tried to convince the court that patenting genes would be similar to patenting coal because you were the first to dig it from the ground.  Lawyers for Myriad made their analogy that while a baseball bat is made from a tree, it’s the process of making it that is critical.  Observers felt that this panel is likely to rule again in Myriad’s favor, which will likely lead both parties to the Supreme Court next year.  TeenJury will keep you posted.

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