Gene Patenting

Today, April 15 2013, Supreme Court will hold oral arguments on the following question:  can one get a patent to gain the exclusive right to do research on specific genes that have been taken out of the body?


Myriad Genetics, Inc., has obtained several federal patents on “isolated” forms of two genes.   On the one hand, Myriad claims that it was entitled to patents on its isolation technology because it did something that no one previously had been able to do, and its legal papers have claimed that this took “an enormous amount of human judgment, including how to define the beginning and end of these genes.”


On the other hand, those who oppose patenting of isolated genes claim that Myriad did not create anything new, since the genes remained the natural material they had inside the human body, unchanged, and patents cannot legally be given to “natural phenomena” or something that is merely the product of “the laws of nature.”


For a discussion of the legal issues, see
For a discussion of some of the implications of the case, see


I got this in a new email I subscribe to.  Crazy thing is that back in 2007 I wrote an essay on how I think patenting genes is illegal.  This argument has been going on for a very long time.