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Supreme Court Throws Out Human Gene Patents 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the klingon-gene-patents-still-ok dept.
thomst sends this quote from an Associated Press report: "The Supreme Court on Monday threw out a lower court ruling allowing human genes to be patented, a topic of enormous interest to cancer researchers, patients and drug makers. The court overturned patents belonging to Myriad Genetics Inc. of Salt Lake City on two genes linked to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. The justices' decision sends the case back down to the federal appeals court in Washington that handles patent cases. The high court said it sent the case back for rehearing because of its decision in another case last week saying that the laws of nature are unpatentable. In that case, the court unanimously threw out patents on a Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., test that could help doctors set drug doses for autoimmune diseases like Crohn's disease."
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Supreme Court Throws Out Human Gene Patents

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  • Re:Not exactly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YodasEvilTwin (2014446) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:30PM (#39478815) Homepage
    Thank you for fighting the good fight on irresponsible journalism, good sir.
  • WOW... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Fantasmo (1057616) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:36PM (#39478871)

    Nature is unpatentable, something everyone knows and understands until you get a law degree.
    Please, please, please let this ruling stick!

    These same justices also need to decide that Monsanto's GMO crop products are WILLFULLY contaminating other people's property. If Monsanto can stop their GMOs' pollen from being carried by the wind, then they can lay claim to all plants with Monsanto genes, until then...

  • by Cazekiel (1417893) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:49PM (#39478955)

    Love this from the article... The justices' decision sends the case back down for a continuation of the battle between the scientists who believe that genes carrying the secrets of life should not be exploited for commercial gain and companies that argue that a patent is a reward for years of expensive research that moves science forward.

    A reward for doing their jobs, what they're paid to do. Isn't that what their paycheck is for, the money they get from the medications/equipment/etc. they develop? Would they seriously stand in the way of a group of lower-on-the-totem-pole scientists for actually coming up with a cure, claiming "No, you can't cure this strain of ovarian cancer, since it involves such-and-such gene--we own that."? The fact that I lean toward 'yea, they would, wouldn't they?' makes me feel ill. We live in a world where we can be sued for posting a kid's birthday party on youtube with the 'Happy Birthday' song in it, and screw us all if we get cancer and can't rely on different, smaller companies that were on the brink of discovering cures but didn't have the dough to fight the C&D orders.

  • Re:/. car analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mellon (7048) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:51PM (#39478969) Homepage

    So basically what you're saying is that there's no obvious distinction to draw between things being red and things being hot, and so either both should be patentable, or neither should. This is entirely correct. Patents are a bad idea. We should just get rid of them entirely. Okay, now, back to the real world. In the real world, we aren't abandoning patents altogether, so courts have to litigate these stupid angel-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin questions, and they have to come up with plausible-seeming justifications for invalidating patents that are clearly bogus, while still pretending that these same justifications don't apply to less glaring cases to which, as you have pointed out, they really do apply. Sux2bus.

  • Re:Not exactly... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:04PM (#39479057)

    The headline gave me hope. Patenting human genes or any naturally occurring genes is insane. You might as well patent blue eyes. Just because you are the first one to see it and identify it doesn't make it personal property especially when most of us have it in our bodies already. This was always about controlling whole lines of research. We have people dying from breast cancer, and yes men die from it too, while a corporation pisses all over the gene that causes it to prevent others from working on a cure that involves the very gene that causes it. Who cares if thousands and potentially millions die when there are corporate profits at stake! The whole system is insane.

  • Re:Not exactly... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:14PM (#39479153)
    First off, I agree with you, patenting genes is stupid.

    Who cares if thousands and potentially millions die when there are corporate profits at stake!

    However, just because something can save the lives of millions is not a reason to not allow it to be patented. Pretty much every safety feature in cars is covered by numerous patents. Many may have expired by now but ABS, Traction Control, Seat belts... were all covered by patents at some point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:23PM (#39479243)

    Genes were not "invented" or "created" they were only discovered. They should never have been patentable.

    If you could patent a gene then you would be able to patent a river if you discovered it first.

    Doesn't make sense.

  • Re:Not exactly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique (173459) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:30PM (#39479299) Homepage

    But why should the gene be patented? The patent seeker in question didn't invent the gene, nor did he invent the way it expresses into proteins, nor did he invented the proteins synthesized. Someone discovered what role the gene plays in the metabolism, but that's a discovery, not an invention.

  • Re:COOL!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:46PM (#39479461) Homepage

    We now need to expand on this throwing out any patent on any gene at all. GM foods may or may not be a good idea, but to patent anything alive is definitely a bad and dangerous thing when it puts a tiny minority in control of the world's food supply.

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