Rethinking the Gene Patent

In March 2010, Pandora’s box was opened when a federal District Court judge invalidated patent claims of Myriad Genetics, Inc., directed to two isolated human genes associated with breast cancer. These genes are used in genetic tests that Myriad has on the market for breast cancer. The tests cost over $3000 each. Their cost is not universally reimbursed. Therefore, the tests are not accessible to many women as a diagnostic tool. Without a license, other companies cannot develop an alternative, competitive test to provide a second opinion.

The controversy brings to a head many legal, ethical, and policy issues, from a variety of constituencies. Those in the academic and institute research community, many of whom are plaintiffs in the case, argue for free and transparent access to many discoveries that are, in fact, intended for commercial purposes.

The decision calls into question the validity of thousands of life science patents that have been issued by the U.S. Patent Office.

Alan J. Morrison, JD, has authored an article about the Myriad case.

Alan J. Morrison, JD., a partner at the intellectual property law firm Cohen Pontani Lieberman & Pavane LLP, New York, NY, provides an introduction to the Myriad case and issues surrounding the patenting of isolated genes. He’s the author of the article Rethinking the Gene Patent, from which the title of this post and podcast is borrowed. The article will appear in the Biotechology Law Report. This blog will post the link to the full article when it becomes available in December 2010.

Bio, Alan J. Morrison, JD
Link to the Myriad Case Association of Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et al., No. 09 Civ. 4515, 2010 WL 1233416, *1 (S.D.N.Y. March 29, 2010)
Someone (Other Than You) May Own Your Genes
Overview of Gene Patents
Summary of the Myriad Case

Podcast (12:26 Minutes)
Rethinking the Gene Patent

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