PUBPAT / ACLU lawsuit to overturn gene patent wins in federal court!

This is going to be a short one, but I can’t go to bed without sharing the news:

PUBPAT (the Public Patent Foundation) and the ACLU have just won a major victory for scientific freedom: the US District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled in favor of their argument that patents on genes that cause hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer are invalid. And the court made the ruling for the best of reasons: that genes are a product of nature and not patentable in themselves.

BRCA1 gene molecule

I’m not a lawyer, but it looks to me like Judge Robert Sweet examined the question about as thoroughly as one possibly could — start around page 101 of the judgment (marked as page 98 in the text) for the details. While the judge was unwilling to go so far as to rule the patents invalid on constitutional grounds, as the plaintiffs had asked, he made it clear that he was avoiding it only because there was no need to reach that conclusion to decide the case (constitutional questions are traditionally avoided if there is another way to reach a judgment).

Congratulations to PUBPAT and the ACLU! Both of them are non-profits; neither is swimming in money, the former probably even less than the latter. You know what to do (I just did).

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