The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that human genes cannot be patented, striking down Myriad Genetics Inc.’s patents on isolated DNA associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Both Erik Belt and Maria Laccotripe Zacharakis, partners in the IP/IT Group at McCarter & English explain the impact of the unanimous ruling on the biotech industry.
Erik Paul Belt, McCarter & English LLP
“Today’s Supreme Court decision is unfortunate in that it misunderstands the science underlying Myriad’s patents. The decision also could weaken patent rights, at least in the biotech sphere, which is exactly the opposite of what this country needs to compete in the global economy. Strong patent rights correlate strongly with innovation. The court should look for ways to strengthen patents, and thus innovation, not to weaken them. The saving grace here for the biotech community is that the court held that cDNA inventions are patentable. This will help direct inventors and patent attorneys on how to patent biotech inventions in the future.”
Maria Laccotripe Zacharakis, McCarter & English LLP
“I am optimistic that the biotechnology industry will continue to develop its life-saving diagnostic technology irrespective of this decision. The positive news is that the Supreme Court did not include in the ‘patent ineligible’ category the complementary DNA … claims or claims directed to new methods applying the knowledge about the genes. This leaves the door open for diagnostics companies to pursue and successfully obtain patents covering their life-saving diagnostics technologies. How broad the scope of protection will be that is afforded by that ‘open door’ remains to be seen. The trick for patent practitioners is to draft diagnostic claims with language that satisfies both the requirements of the Prometheus decision and those of the USPTO’s guidelines published last summer. The remaining biotechnology industry (nondiagnostic industry) won’t be affected much by this decision.”
Click to read full article: “Attorneys React To High Court’s Gene Patent Ruling”