Patent Business Addendum – Supreme Court Rules

13 Jun

In an announcement today, the Supreme Court has ruled that human genes cannot be patented.

This is bad news for Myriad Genetics, who was banking on their patents over genetic traits associated with breast cancer for revenue.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the decision for a unanimous court. “Myriad did not create anything,” Thomas said. “To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention.”

The issue before the judges was not simple, as there are significant costs associated with the development of new technologies.

“We invest heavily in the research and development that is needed to discover and provide high-quality molecular diagnostic products that save and improve patients’ lives,” said Richard Marsh, executive vice president and general counsel at Myriad. “Strong intellectual property and patent rights in the United States are critical to fulfilling our mission.”

Nonetheless, the ruling today is taken as a victory for cancer patients.

The decision represents a victory for cancer patients, researchers and geneticists who claimed that a single company’s patent raised costs, restricted research and sometimes forced women to have breasts or ovaries removed without sufficient facts or second opinions.”

This subject garnered worldwide attention as Angelina Jolie utilized Myriad Genetics’ technology to choose her course of action with regards to breast cancer treatment.


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