More on gene patents

Five months ago, a federal judge struck down gene patents. The ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation were suing Myriad Genetics over their patents on breast cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. (See the piece I wrote about this suit and why I don’t like gene patents.)

Why is this news now? Well, mostly because I missed it five months ago. But recent weeks have brought some renewed analysis, including this essay on sharing scientific data and this discussion of what exactly is under scrutiny in a (different) gene patent case. Technically the genes in our bodies aren’t patented, just the isolated version – so that isolating the gene amounts to manufacturing a patented item. According to the NY Times:

[Judge Sweet] said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable “a ‘lawyer’s trick’ that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result.”

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