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Green Light for Gene Patent Lawsuit

A U.S. District Court judge ruled Monday that a gene patent lawsuit filed against the Patent and Trademark Office could move forward. At issue are patents exclusively licensed by Myriad Genetics for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutations of the genes are strongly linked to significant risks of breast cancer. The suit, lead by the Association for Molecular Pathology and including plaintiffs such as the American Civil Liberties Union, is the first of its kind, claiming that the patents violate free speech by inhibiting research. Myriad, along with the USPTO and the University of Utah Research Foundation, requested that the suit be dismissed, but the court denied the motion.

The suit claims that “genes cannot be patented because they exist as naturally occurring products of nature,” an argument David Koepsell made here at Science Progress, writing that “patenting unmodified genes rewards discovery, not invention.”

But Timothy Caulfield argued at SP just last week that despite the claims that gene patents impede upstream basic research, there just isn’t data to back up the charge.

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