Thursday, June 13, 2013

No IP Rights in Human Genes

The US Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that a naturally occurring gene segment cannot be patented. In Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. (the slip opinion is here), the Court carefully distinguished naturally occurring gene segments from genes that are manipulated to produce something not found in nature. The very sensible decision, authored by Justice Thomas, derails efforts by some labs to claim property rights in naturally occurring genetic materials in order to shut down research elsewhere.

This decision gives reason to hope that the Supreme Court, which has acquiesced in virtually all prior efforts to expand IP rights, has finally recognized the problem of too much property in knowledge.

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