The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case today that may sound a bit like old news. The highest court in the land considered whether genes are patentable.
You've probably heard of these arguments—and even of the genes in question, BRCA1 and BRCA2—before. That's because a large group, including doctors, researchers and patient advocacy organizations, have been taking this issue to the courts since 2009. That group, which is suing against Myriad Genetics, the biotechnology company that holds the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 patents, has never won the sweeping injunction against gene patenting that it wants. But now, the Supreme Court plans rule on the issue by the end of June.
Here's a refresher on the basics of the case, which the Supreme Court heard at 10 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time today.
Who's involved? The case is called the Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. A lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union is representing the gene-patenting opponents.
Myriad Genetics is based in Utah and Myriad scientists were the first to find BRCA1 and BRCA2 in a sample of DNA and to isolate the genes for study. Mutations in these genes increase people's chances of getting hereditary breast, ovarian and other cancers. Myriad uses its patents to offer testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, for which it earned $405.5 million, or more than 80 percent of its revenue, in the last fiscal year. Myriad president Mark Capone has said the company invested more than $500 million to study BRCA1 and BRCA2.
A lawyer representing the U.S. government as an impartial advisor also spoke today.
What are the arguments? Myriad says it required human ingenuity and judgment to become the first to isolate BRCA1 and BRCA2, so it deserves its patents.
Opponents to gene patenting say genes are made by nature and can't be patentable. Patenting genes stifles the ability of other scientists to study genes and slows the lifesaving research, opponents say.
All kinds of people have demonstrated their support for the different sides. Groups representing the biotech, pharmaceutical and agriculture companies, the last of which patent genes for genetically modified crops, support Myriad. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, meanwhile, has happily issued gene patents for more than 30 years.
The American Medical Association and other doctor's groups support the opposition, as do breast cancer patient groups, which held a rally today on the Supreme Court steps. The Obama Administration's stance is that individual genes aren't patentable.
Naturally occurring genes No.
Synthetically created or modified genomes sure.
I think patten shoes are nice, lol.
So if I spend $500M studying the climate, can I patent the climate? I can understand that it cost money to study these things, but patenting nature should not be allowed.
One standard for US patents is the "obviousness test". That is would the proposed concept involving simply a slightly different combination of existing, known materials or devices be obvious to "someone skilled in the arts"? Thus, in order to be granted a US patent on a new gene combination, it must not currently exist in nature, and there should also be some accompanying novel form of process described to create it.
Nothing that can reproduce and spread copies of itself should be patentable. So no, genomes are out.
I'm thinking of terraforming another planet where there wouldn't be any mafia that created artifical scarcity through copyright and patent laws. There's no such thing as intelectual property. It's an oxymoron. Ideea are anything other than property. You can multiply ideeas, songs, movies, painting "ad infinitum" and the original owner still remains with the original copy. END THE MAFIA STATE & END ARTIFICAL SCARCITY.
If a human creates something unique, then yes patent it, only if it was made or discovered without any government aid or money paid by taxes.
But for all natural life and its genes, it is un-patentable.
Companies shoulden be able to patent anything natural and synthetic, because the problem with (companies/people) is GREED. If I create synthetical corn and feed people for 10 years and then decide to create a natural corn destroying synthetical breed, that means I basically control corn. Well every idiot knows the consequence of that, "pay me more money or die of hunger". THE LESS PEOPLE CONTROL THE BETTER THE WORLD IS.
If big companies pursue the route that Monsanto and other sellers of patented GM plants go, where they say "hey, you're using our patented plants, doesn't matter if the seeds blew onto your field without your knowledge, they're ours", then there's a problem. Imagine a person being born with a patented gene sequence, say from their parents, and a company with the patent comes in and says "hey, every moment you breathe you're using our patented gene sequence, we demand compensation, you owe us a portion of your income for life".
It's all very complex politics with regards to the human body.
"....Companies shoulden be able to patent anything natural and synthetic, because the problem with (companies/people) is GREED...."
Companies cannot patent anything. Only individuals can apply for US patents. Patent rights can only be assigned to a company by the individual inventor(s). Anything that exists in nature cannot be patented, since there is an obvious prior art.
Companies should not be allowed to patent something natural. It is probably like trying to own something which is not your personal property. A right patent attorney will always guide you what to patent. They better understand the things to be taken under patent process. Check this one-<a href="http://www.cotters.com.au/patent_attorney_sydney.php">cotters</a>