Guidelines for Gene Patent Ruling

The USPTO offers guidance to its patent examiners on how to interpret the Supreme Court’s rulings in the recent Myriad and Prometheus cases.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef (an unusual nickname for Jennifer) got her master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses. After four years of diving off the Gulf...

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Mar 7, 2014

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, GALLO & SPERO LLPLast summer, the US Supreme Court invalidated patents held by Salt Lake City, Utah-based Myriad Genetics on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. A year earlier, the high court ruled that two diagnostic patents held by San Diego-based Prometheus were also not patent eligible. In both cases, the justices cited laws against patenting products or laws of nature or natural phenomena.

This week (March 4), the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), whose role is to interpret court decisions on patentability into procedures for patent examiners to follow, issued guidelines on how to apply these new rulings. It all comes down to “whether a claim reflects a significant difference from what exists in nature and thus is [patent] eligible,” the USPTO described. Alternatively, if “a claim is effectively drawn to something that is naturally occurring,” then it is not patent eligible, according to the guidelines.

“In...

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Guidelines for Gene Patent Ruling

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