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Biotech Medicine Patents The Courts United States

US District Judge Rules Gene Patents Invalid 263

shriphani writes "A US judge has ruled that Myriad Genetics' breast cancer gene patent is invalid. Hopefully this will go a long way in ensuring that patents on genes do not stand in the way of research. From the article: 'Patents on genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are invalid, ruled a New York federal court today. The precedent-setting ruling marks the first time a court has found patents on genes unlawful and calls into question the validity of patents now held on approximately 2,000 human genes.'"
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US District Judge Rules Gene Patents Invalid

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  • Monsanto (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anarki2004 ( 1652007 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @11:03PM (#31665962) Homepage Journal
    I would like to see something similar happen to Monsanto's patents.
  • I'm glad and all... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JorDan Clock ( 664877 ) <jordanclock@gmail.com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @11:03PM (#31665970)
    But I'm kind of upset that we live in a society that we have to tell someone "No, you cannot have exclusive rights to a natural occurrence." Worse yet, this "patent" prevented anyone from even looking at the gene, whether it was for diagnostic or research purposes.
  • I don't get it ! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @11:19PM (#31666060) Journal

    I don't get it !

    If they can patent the way I work (while listening to music), why can't I patent my own genes?

    Double standards??

  • Re:Monsanto (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Monday March 29, 2010 @11:21PM (#31666068) Homepage Journal

    I think it should be illegal though. If you have a farm next door to a patented crop, bees cross polinate, and then monsanto is knocking on your door.

    In essence their patent is viral in nature.

  • by pearl298 ( 1585049 ) <mikewatersaz AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 29, 2010 @11:48PM (#31666254)
    The US Supreme Court ruling used the term "anything under the sun that is made by man".

    The essence of this lawsuit is that the natural genes were "discovered" not "made by man".

    In other words these patents were invalid under existing law. Nothing new here, bad patents have been around since King James (the gay King of England and Scotland).
  • Re:Conversely (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @12:35AM (#31666500)

    The current money formula is:
    Grant + Patent = Profit

    Now you're removing the patent money from the mix.
    So the question is, will the grant money be enough to both fund the research and provide enough profit incentive to the researchers so they don't spend their time elsewhere.

  • Re:Conversely (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mibe ( 1778804 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @12:45AM (#31666564)

    But you don't need to research the function of the gene to develop a patentable treatment, so long as you know the guy down the street is going to research the function and let everyone know.

    For instance, Myriad made their money by sequencing BRCA genes - but they only sequence BRCA because they figured out the function of the genes in breast cancer risk. The first part (sequencing tests) is easy, I can quite literally design a sequencing test for that tomorrow (I am a molecular geneticist), but figuring out which genes to sequence and why is the hard part. All I have to do is sit around and wait for some sucker to put in all the R&D money into finding out - for instance - the big autism gene, and then once he's done that I can immediately begin making money off of his work by offering a test for it.

    Once again, abolishing gene patents alone isn't the answer. Abolishing gene patents removes the incentive for private funding of genetic research - we need more public funding to fill in the gaps, or private funding will only continue on a condition of secrecy.

  • Re:Conversely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @01:48AM (#31666934) Homepage Journal

    Evil thought: How about e turn it around. If I claim ownership of a dog, and that dog bites someone, I am liable for the medical bills.

    If a biotech firm claims ownership of a gene and that gene causes cancer, they should be liable for the cancer. Perhaps they would be better off with a narrow patent on a particular method of screening for that gene's presence.

  • by throughwithit ( 897185 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:38AM (#31667160)
    He may have known it was modified, but the Canadian Supreme Court also found that he never actually used RoundUp on the crop of interest to the court case.
  • Re:Conversely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @03:42AM (#31667470)

    Check your funding a little closer. Most of that money comes from grants by drug companies that gets donated to the government to be disseminated to research projects.

    Don't get me wrong, we're (public) losing in the deal but its actually not nearly as bad as you think. They occasionally buy us dinner and bring lube with them.

  • Re:Conversely (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QuantumG ( 50515 ) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @06:50AM (#31668328) Homepage Journal

    Yep, and it's worse than that. But eliminating the patentability of genes they've made it profitable to do secret research and never publish the results. In fact, one might say that's the point of patents.. to make public disclosure still profitable.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.