U.S. CAFC on patentability of isolated genes

Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Myriad Genetics held that isolated genes are patent-eligible subject matter, reversing the lower court in part (PDF).

The reasons of Justice Louire writing for the court (there were concurring-in-part opinions from Justice Moore and Bryson and a dissenting-in-part opinion from Justice Bryson) began with the following summary:

… On the merits, we reverse the district court’s decision that Myriad’s composition claims to “isolated” DNA molecules cover patent-ineligible products of nature under § 101 since the molecules as claimed do not exist in nature. We also reverse the district court’s decision that Myriad’s method claim to screening potential cancer therapeutics via changes in cell growth rates is directed to a patent-ineligible scientific principle. We, however, affirm the court’s decision that Myriad’s method claims directed to “comparing” or “analyzing” DNA sequences are patent ineligible; such claims include no transformative steps and cover only patent-ineligible abstract, mental steps.

Patently-O has commentary including likely next steps in the proceeding and I’m sure many other observers will have their own take on the decision posted by the end of the day. As part of its coverage of the hearing in this proceeding, the WSJ put together some background on the Myriad Genetics case and the issues.

2 thoughts on “U.S. CAFC on patentability of isolated genes”

  1. I’m not so sure I agree with the court’s ruling that once DNA is isolated from the body it is “markedly different” from the DNA that exists naturally in chromosomes. Hence, being patent-eligible. To me it’s more a question of the environment being different than the DNA itself. Then again, the 2-1 split decision suggests that the court was unsure as well. We will definitely be seeing this case presented before the Supreme Court.

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