Date: 20 Sep 2013

Are Human Genes Patentable?

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On June 13, 2013 the United States Supreme Court delivered its long-anticipated opinion in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad,

569 U.S. ___ (2013).

a decision addressing the question posed by the Court to the parties, “Are human genes patentable?”

133 S.Ct. 694 (2012) (granting certiorari).

As has already been widely reported in the popular press, in a relatively short and essentially unanimous opinion authored by Justice Thomas, the Court held DNA sequences extracted from human cells to constitute products of nature, outside patentable subject matter. But what has been less widely reported is the simultaneous holding that other human gene sequences, entailing equivalent information, remain within patentable subject matter. The reasoning behind this distinction is puzzling and contradictory, and leaves the law in this area far more confused and uncertain than before the Court undertook its answer to the gene patenting question.

Two types of claimed nucleotide sequences were at ...