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Apr 5, 2011

Federal Circuit Reviews AMP v USPTO, Patentability of Genes


Are isolated genes a product of human ingenuity or a product of nature?

Yesterday, the Federal Circuit heard oral arguments in the gene patent case Association of Molecular Pathology v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (aka the Myriadcase).  The legal question under review is whether a gene, once "isolated" from a person's entire genetic code, is a "product of nature," and therefore ineligible for patent.

The case centers on Myriad Genetics' patents on two genes related to breast and ovarian cancer.  AMP, in collaboration with American Civil Liberties Union, researchers, doctors and patients have challenged the legality of these patents, arguing, among other things, that they make it harder for women to get access to cancer screening. (For details of the case, check this overview)

The judges' decision is expected to have broad implications throughout the life science community, affecting companies, researchers and patients.

A complete recording of the oral arguments for ASSOCIATION FOR MOLECULAR V. PTO can be found here.

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