Supreme Court Remands Myriad’s Human Gene Patent Case

On the heels of its decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., the Supreme Court has remanded another controversial patent case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent litigation.

The lower court had previously confirmed patents awarded to Myriad Genetics Inc. related to the company’s genetic tests for breast and ovarian cancer. However, the court’s decision may change in light of the Supreme Court’s decent ruling that certain diagnostic tests merely recite natural laws and are, therefore, ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Using this new precedent, the appeals court will now consider whether the subject of Myriad’s patents, isolated DNA, is considered a product of nature. Myriad has argued that “human intervention” brings isolated DNA within the scope of the U.S. patent laws. However, the Prometheus decision has arguably raised the bar on the amount of intervention needed to withstand legal scrutiny.

Like its predecessor, the Myriad case could have a dramatic impact on modern patent law. “The question of whether human genes and the information they convey are patentable is of paramount importance to the future of patent law, the advancement of medical science and patients’ health,” Myriad’s opponents argued in their appeal.

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