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Three Blockbuster Patent Cases at the Supreme Court This Term
Date:1/17/2013

(PRWEB) January 18, 2013

Patent law isn’t often a subject that gets most people talking. But this year, three patent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court could impact people at the most basic levels and have important consequences for the future of food and medicine here and abroad.

The controversial cases involve ownership of isolated genes, the cost and availability of prescription drugs as well as the seeds used in almost everything we eat, according to Intellectual Property Law Professor Daryl Lim of The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

In the case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics (132.S.Ct.1794 (2012)), the Court will determine if human genes are patentable. Earlier the Federal Circuit, the nation’s appellate court for patent cases, had concluded that DNA molecules used in breast cancer testing and screening could be patented.

“This case invokes strong emotions on both sides. The broad argument against allowing such patents is that it gives companies a monopoly over a basic element of the human body,” Lim said.

As a practical matter, the American Civil Liberties Union, one of the plaintiffs, maintains that allowing such patents would inhibit affordable access to medical care and research. Myriad, the molecular diagnostic company owing the patents, spent $500 million over 17 years to develop its tests.

“Myriad has warned that without patent protection, investment in personalized medicine would be chilled, since patient therapies depend on such tests. Its patents protect molecules isolated from the human body,” Lim noted.

“I believe the Supreme Court will approach its decision fully aware that adequate patent protection is an exi
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