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US Court Sides With Gene Patents 255

Posted by timothy
from the much-prefer-gene-siskells-to-gene-patents dept.
ananyo writes "Gene patents have been upheld in a landmark case over two genes associated with hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer. The lawsuit against Myriad Genetics, a diagnostic company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, that holds patents on the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, has bounced from court to court since 2010. In a 2-1 decision today, a federal appeals court reaffirmed their latest decision that genes represent patent-eligible matter. As noted before on Slashdot, the case will have major implications for cancer researchers, patients and drug makers."
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US Court Sides With Gene Patents

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @06:42PM (#41017755) Homepage Journal

    Along this course of "logic" - you will someday be paying royalties on genes that comprise your own personal traits.

  • by wermske (1781984) * on Thursday August 16, 2012 @06:44PM (#41017769) Homepage

    US Supreme Court precedent still holds that patents are invalid where they reiterate the 'laws of nature". This lower court ruling simply found, in another hearing of the case, that the two patents held by Myriad fail to meet the reiteration test. The lower court was directed to consider this rule as a guiding principle. They have done so. This does not preclude further appeal; however, given the very narrow nature of the ruling it is unlikely to have "major implications for cancer researchers, patients and drug makers."

    Certainly, it contributes to the body of common law; however, I don't believe there is deep policy significance in this latest ruling. The beauty of law is its ambiguity.

  • ... in the US (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @06:45PM (#41017775) Journal

    Hopefully in the rest of the world, things will be more sane.

  • by west (39918) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @07:08PM (#41018025)

    Do you mean that it's far better that everybody go without this discovery forever, than a large number of people (who can afford it, naturally) benefit during the patent period, and then everybody benefit from it afterwards?

    Or would you prefer to believe that in the absence of commercial medical research, government, which by their very nature don't tend to make risky investments that are unlikely to payoff, will miraculously somehow start funding expensive medical research?

    I'm a Canadian, and I like my cheap medical care. But it would be the height of hypocrisy to ignore the fact that almost all the medical developments that are likely to keep me healthy into old age wouldn't exist if there wasn't the good old greed of the American medical system. Of course, there are some notable exceptions, but in general, if someone isn't going to make money from it (with the significant chance of a lot of money), then people aren't going to take the risk of expensive research with high probability of failure.

    The choice for genetic research isn't between expensive vs. cheap. It's between expensive now + cheap later vs. not available at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 16, 2012 @07:21PM (#41018155)

    Not only is this a stupid decision - that my genes can be patented by a third party - but it's a decision which will allow the patent trolls to monopolise them and will result in many, many deaths worldwide. These judges should be ashamed of themselves on both levels.

    Judge Alan Lourie writes: “Each of the claimed molecules represents a nonnaturally occurring composition of matter.. Oh bullshit. I've noticed when lawyers try and make decisions regarding science and technology - be it copyright or biosciences - more often than not they balls it up and the public is left to bear the cost of their arrogance. In this case research will be curtailed by other scientists not wanting to go anywhere near what may be patented technology, and members of the public will die. Talk about judicial arrogance.

    It was Judges Lourie and Moore who fucked this up. Bryson dissented. With such a narrow decision I hope the victims can appeal.

    http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/10-1406_0.pdf [aclu.org]

    Although it is easy to blame mass ignorance when pointing to those appointed to sit behind a bench (which could easily be the case here), did you ever stop and consider that the decision was made with full knowledge and understanding?

    I'm not trying to purport wrongdoing in this case, but when you consider the hundreds of billions of dollars that Big Pharma (or other patent holders) stand to make with a decision like this, one cannot remove the possibility of wrongful influence. The benefit is far too one-sided to not consider it.

  • Re:Smoking Crack (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Thursday August 16, 2012 @07:47PM (#41018427)
    And what happens if you reproduce with somebody who has these genes? Will they be able to sue you over your children, the way Monsanto sues people over corn?

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