Posts Tagged: "Gene Patents"

Supreme Court Hears Myriad Gene Patent Challenge

If cDNA is patent eligible subject matter, as it seems likely based on the tone of the oral argument, that should be very good news for Myriad. As Justice Breyer recognized during questioning of Mr. Hansen (representing AMP), the Myriad claim says they want “the isolated DNA of claim 1 wherein said DNA has the nucleotide sequence set forth in SEQ ID No. 1.” If you look at SEQ ID No. 1 clearly states that the molecule type is cDNA, thus cDNA seems to be a part of the claim, not to mention that the cDNA used by Myriad was a consensus sequence made from hundreds of different patients. Thus, if cDNA is patent eligible then the Supreme Court must find that at least some genes are patent eligible and must also find the Myriad claims patent eligible. Whether the Supreme Court Justices really captured that nuance remains in doubt. It seemed at times that Justices Sotomayor and Kagan were openly arguing the AMP/ACLU case. Sadly, at times it was apparent that the Supreme Court doesn’t understand even the most basic and fundamental patent law concepts.

Forward Looking Personalized Medicine, Patent Law and Science

Social policy concerns have influenced the AMP v Myriad debate. The Supreme Court, to the extent it must make a ruling for our times, informed by societal context, should dispassionately consider all the available empirical evidence, from the academic work cited here, to the claim scope limits resulting from massive sequence publication projects and recent court cases, and the thriving innovation ecosystem in personalized medicine at and among for profit and not for profits, and render a clear forward compatible decision for us all.

Patent Pending: Corporations, the Constitution, and the Human Gene

The Honorable Alex Kozinski immediately posed the question—by way of an analogy to scientists who stare at the stars—of why should someone be able to get a gene patent just because there was a significant amount of effort put in to discover that gene. Throughout the event, Judge Kozinski took on the role of the generalist judge, who would need to be convinced that the invention in the lab is anything other than a product of nature. Professor David Winickoff of UC Berkeley followed that question up by discussing James Watson’s amicus brief and the idea that genes are both symbolic in our culture and shared by all humans, thus making them a unique item in our world.

Emerging Patent Law Policy Issues for in 2013

From implementation of sections of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act to anticipated decisions from the Supreme Court, we can expect changes to the patent system that will affect the high tech and biotechnology industries, start up companies and established businesses of all sizes. Just some of the developments we can expect to see include a determination of whether genes are patentable, proposed legislation addressing the litigation strategies of non practicing entities, and harmonization of the US with much of the world through the implementation of the first-to-file patent application system and the introduction of an international design patent application process.

Gene Patents: Getting Beyond Witch Trials

The USPTO Roundtable on genetic testing exposed claims that have driven the debate so far to a rare scrutiny.  Perhaps the bonfires being prepared for the accused are premature. One critic condemned universities issuing exclusive licenses as culprits responsible for preventing physician-run laboratories “that are begging to do the test” from offering competing testing services. The underlying notion appears that exclusive licensees who spend millions on test development and clinical validation actually provide shoddy lab work in practice, and that physician-run laboratories could do a better job. If so, no supporting evidence was given.

No One is Patenting Your Genes: The Ripple Effect if Isolated DNA Claims Are Made Patent Ineligible

One side in the “gene patent war” has nevertheless convinced the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue of whether DNA sequences derived from the human genome are patentable, in Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP) v. Myriad Genetics, while disingenuously labeling the patents at issue as “human gene patents.” Let’s set the record straight.

The U.S. Government’s Position in ACLU v. Myriad Genetics: Observations on a ‘Waste of Time and Space’

So maybe the Federal Circuit won’t find “preemption” to be useful in deciding this appeal; we’ll know soon enough. I, for one, can’t make sense of the DOJ’s fixation on “tying up.” In Flook, the Supreme Court made clear that a claim’s patent-eligibility does not turn on the range of uses that are preempted versus those that remain in the public domain. Even in Mayo, the Supreme Court discussed preemption explicitly only as an underlying policy concern, as a justification for an outcome that, to the Court, seemed right and just – not as a test that distinguishes a “law of nature” from a man-made process. By elevating “tying up” to the status of an actual analytical tool, DOJ proposes an unworkable test that fails to distinguish “products of nature” from man-made inventions and leads to absurd outcomes. It asks the Federal Circuit to rely on asserted facts and unstated claim constructions. It requires strained interpretations of leading precedent. It is evasive and avoids the hard work of construing the claims and applying them to the activities believed to be “tied up” – lawyer work that, if undertaken, may or may not show that the preemptive scope of these claims isn’t all it’s trumped up to be.

Federal Circuit Panel Rehears ACLU, Myriad Gene Patent Case

Although predictions on the outcome of an unusual case such as this are probably worthless, I think that it is most likely that this panel will rule in 2012 the same way that it ruled in 2011. It is probably safe to presume that the judges are fairly entrenched in their positions. In my view, no arguments were presented which show that Mayo was a game-changer with respect to the isolated DNA claims and the screening method claim. In particular, AMP’s main point about the relevance of Mayo—the preemption argument—was harshly criticized by Judge Moore. Among the three members of the panel, Judge Moore would appear to be the most likely to change sides, and I do not see this happening. Thus, I expect the same outcome as last year. However, the long-term outcome is much murkier, with an en banc hearing and/or a Supreme Court appeal almost certain.

Debunking the Gene Patent Mythology: Professor Holman’s Supplemental Brief in the AMP Remand*

Professor Holman not only teaches patent law at UMKC, but has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology, as well as well as some post-doctoral drug discovery research experience. In other words, Professor Holman speaks as one who understands both the patent law and the technology involved in the AMP case. And what Professor Holman’s supplemental brief does is debunk the “gene patent mythology” fabricated by ACLU, PubPat, (and others), as well as “ a number of assumptions regarding the nature of the claimed subject matter” made by the original Federal Circuit panel which he characterizes as “unsupported at best, and in some instances clearly mistaken.”

Chakrabarty Controls on Isolated DNA Sequences, not Mayo*

Unfortunately this unspecific remand by the Supreme Court in AMP vacates as well the two-to-one ruling by this same Federal Circuit panel (Judges Lourie and Moore in the majority, Judge Bryson in dissent) that the claimed isolated DNA sequences were also patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. What, pray tell, does Mayo Collaborative Services change with regard to that ruling in the original AMP decision? For those, like the plaintiffs in AMP (including the ACLU), who would like to upset this “applecart,” they’re likely to be very disappointed. I can describe what should be the impact of the ruling (and reasoning) in Mayo Collaborative Services on the claimed isolated DNA sequences in three short monosyllabic words: NONE AT ALL. And the Federal Circuit can (and should) say likewise, perhaps in far more words.

Myriad: Isolated DNA claims from “ball bats in trees,” and “kidneys” to “magic microscopes.”

The basic argument in Myriad is whether DNA that is isolated from the chromosomes is statutory subject matter, or whether it is a product of nature. The stakes are high in the Myriad case, since the isolated DNA claimed by Myriad encodes mutated BRCA1 and BRCA2 proteins that can be used to detect breast cancer. Myriad has the only test offered in the United States because of its aggressive enforcement of its several patents. The numerous plaintiffs in the case speak to the core of the patent versus non-patent debate: whether patents actually “promote the progress of science and useful arts” as required in the U.S. Constitution. Myriad and other companies heavily reliant on biotechnology patents, would support the argument that strong patent enforcement allows companies which have invested millions or billions in assay or drug development for clinical use to recoup their investment and provide a return for investors. The plaintiffs would argue that such patents not only hinder the useful arts, but also endanger lives and/or drives up the cost of providing potentially life-saving testing and treatment.

As Predicted, Federal Circuit Rules Isolated DNA Patentable

After much anticipation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit earlier today issued a decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. The decision on first glance will seem to be a split decision, particularly by Federal Circuit standards. The majority opinion was written by Judge Lourie, Judge Moore wrote a concurring opinion and Judge Bryson concurred in part and dissented in part. Having said that, the outcome largely seems to be what was predicted by the patent community. On the major substantive issue — are isolated DNA molecules patent eligible subject matter — the Federal Circuit reversed the decision of the district court and ruled that isolated DNA molecules do constituted patent eligible subject matter. The Federal Circuit also ruled that methods relating to the screening for potential cancer therapeutics are, likewise, patent eligible subject matter. All three Judges also found the “comparing” and “analyzing” claims to be ineligible for patent protection because they were not transformative, and thus were merely abstract mental steps.

Reviewing the ACLU and Myriad Oral Arguments at the CAFC

The ACLU lead plaintiffs have a real predicament relative to standing. It does not sound as if the Federal Circuit believed any single plaintiff could satisfy both prongs required to bring a Declaratory Judgment Action, and rather were trying to say we have some plaintiffs with first prong evidence and some with second prong evidence. Simply put, that dog doesn’t hunt, at least not under current law relative to standing. Thus, there seems a real chance that the entire case could be thrown out because no plaintiff has standing.

Intellectual Property from the Land Down Under, 2010 Part 2

The gene patents issue had been simmering in Australia for some time, with a Senate Enquiry into the subject having been underway for over a year, but with the Myriad decision in the US, and the Australian litigation, it exploded into the headlines. Within the space of a few months, gene patents became the subject of numerous news articles and opinion pieces (including one by the former leader of the Opposition, and current Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband, Malcolm Turnbull), and a major report on the Australian national broadcaster’s flagship current affairs program Four Corners. Almost all of this coverage was generally critical of ‘gene patents’, without ever providing a satisfactory definition of the term.

Top 10 Patent, Innovation & IP Events of 2010

At this time of the year all typically sit back and reflect on the year that has been, spend time with family and friends, watch some football and set a course to follow into the new year. So here are the top 10 events that shaped the patent, innovation and intellectual property industry during 2010 — at least according to me, and with a heavy patent emphasis. What did you expect?