Daniel Porter
Jun 14, 2013

SC: naturally-occurring DNA not patentable

In a long-awaited decision, the supreme court has finally issued a ruling striking down the central patented matter in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. At the heart of the case was whether or not Myriad could patent diagnostic identification of a particular existing mutation in the human genome predisposing women to breast and ovarian cancer.

The Justices' decision--unanimous and lead by Chief Justice Thomas--was narrow. Importantly, it left open the possibility for patenting sequences of DNA which do not occur naturally, relying heavily on "if you can't make it, you can't patent it" reasoning. Justice Scalia issued a separate, notably shorter, decision distancing himself from much of the technical basis for the joint Court's decision.