On May 21, 2014, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pulled the plug on the latest bill aimed at fighting patent trolls. The term “patent troll” is an aptly coined name for non-practicing entities, companies formed to hold and collect royalties on patent rights without manufacturing, using, or otherwise selling the patented products or processes.
The question as to whether isolated strands of human DNA are patent eligible subject matter has finally been answered. The Supreme Court handed down its opinion in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc (1), on Thursday, June 13, 2013. Confirming what many patent practitioners anticipated, the Court held that a naturally occurring DNA segment is a product of nature and therefore is not patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101 merely because it has been isolated. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the Court ruled that complementary DNA (cDNA), which is synthetically constructed from a DNA segment by removing the introns (the non-coding DNA segments in a gene), can constitute patent eligible subject matter because the cDNA is not naturally occurring. It is important to note that this carved-out exception protects universities, biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies, and other research institutions; without the carved-out exception, the ability for such entities to recuperate resources devoted to research and development may have been lost.
Continue Reading You Can’t Patent My DNA: A brief on Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.