The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized court that deals mostly with patent law, held on Friday that biotechnology companies can patent DNA sequences:
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, said that Myriad Genetics was entitled to patents on two human genes used to predict if women have an increased risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer.
The court ruled that DNA isolated from the body was eligible for patents because it was “markedly different” in its chemical structure from DNA that exists inside the chromosomes in the body. As a result, the isolated DNA is not simply a product of nature, which would not be eligible for a patent.
The 2-to-1 decision on the gene patenting issue was also a rejection of arguments made by the Obama administration, which had filed a friend of the court brief arguing that isolated DNA should not be patented.
Although this case could potentially be reviewed by the Supreme Court, high Court review of the Federal Circuit’s patent decisions are unusual. The Federal Circuit was created in 1982 as a specialized appeals court that handles all patent appeals brought in any federal court in the nation. Accordingly, the justices frequently defer to the Federal Circuit’s patent decisions because of the court’s particular expertise in this area.