Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) will deliver oral arguments asking the court to rule that patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer are unconstitutional and invalid. The groups charge that the patents stifle diagnostic testing and research that could lead to cures and that they limit women's options regarding their medical care.
The lawsuit Association for Molecular Pathology et al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office et al. was originally filed on May 12, 2009, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of breast cancer and women's health groups, individual women, and scientific associations representing approximately 150,000 researchers, pathologists, and laboratory professionals.
The lawsuit was filed against the PTO as well as Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation, which hold the patents on the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. The lawsuit charges that patents on human genes violate the First Amendment and patent law because genes are "products of nature" and therefore can't be patented.
Here’s GEN’s coverage to date:
BIO Exclusive: Case against Myriad Genetics Not Likely to Change IP Landscape (May 19, 2009)
Myriad Genetics Comes under Legal Fire for Gene Patents (May 13, 2009)
Patentability of Genetic Sequences Limited (May 13, 2009)