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Subject Appeals Court Says Genes Are Patentable, Because They're 'Separate' From Your DNA
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Original Message Appeals Court Says Genes Are Patentable, Because They're 'Separate' From Your DNA

from the chop-off-a-finger-and-patent-it dept

Well, this is unfortunate. We were quite happy with US district court judge Robert Sweet last year for making it clear that isolated genes are not patentable material in the Myriad Genetics case. This was one of those annoying patent situations where so many people had just assumed that genes were patentable for decades, without a single court testing that theory out. So industries were built up around the idea that genes could be patented. Thankfully, Sweet didn't let that bother him in pointing out that gene patents "are directed to a law of nature and were therefore improperly granted."

Of course, as expected, Myriad appealed, and even the Justice Department weighed in, saying genes shouldn't be patentable. However, the results of the appeal are in... and the Federal Circuit appeals court (CAFC) has reversed the lower court and said that patenting genes is just fine. The reasoning is bordering on ridiculous. The court effectively states that because isolated genes are isolated rather than a part of the full DNA strand, they are not "found in nature."

It is undisputed that Myriadís claimed isolated DNAs exist in a distinctive chemical form--as distinctive chemical molecules--from DNAs in the human body, i.e., native DNA. Native DNA exists in the body as one of forty-six large, contiguous DNA molecules. Each DNA molecule is itself an integral part of a larger structural complex, a chromosome. In each chromosome, the DNA molecule is packaged around histone proteins into a structure called chromatin, which in turn is packaged into the chromosomal structure


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