Myriad: Isolated DNA sequences are patentable subject matter

In a much-anticipated decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that isolated DNA molecules may be patented, so long as the molecules meet other criteria such as novelty and non-obviousness.  In Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics (Fed. Cir. July 29, 2011), the Court rejected a district court’s finding that isolated DNA molecules exist in nature and are thus not patentable.  The Federal Circuit also reversed the district court’s finding that a method for screening potential cancer therapeutics could not be patented because it was a mere scientific principle.

My colleagues Paul Legaard and Dan Scolnick recently drafted an article that more fully describes the Myriad decision.  The full text is available on the Pepper Hamilton website by clicking here.

UPDATE:  On March 26, 2012, after an appeal the U.S. Supreme Court remanded this case to the Federal Circuit and ordered the Federal Circuit to reconsider its decision in view of Mayo v. Prometheus.

One response to “Myriad: Isolated DNA sequences are patentable subject matter

  1. Although a bit of trepidation is likely in order (no matter on what end of the spectrum you tend to fall), I look forward to reading what the SCOTUS has to say when the esteemed Justices opine on gene patents. Particularly since Myriad presents a bit of a chicken-and-egg question — that is thus perhaps not scientifically, definitively solvable — policy considerations will probably weigh heavily in their ultimate determination. Which also makes one wonder to what extent the Court’s new political makeup will affect the case’s outcome.

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